When you’re shopping online, prices on everything from toilet paper to TVs could fluctuate several times a day.
Dynamic pricing, a strategy that the travel industry has been using for years, is now being used online for many consumer goods. According to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal…
“Retailers on Amazon.com changed prices on a Samsung 43-inch plasma television four times over the course of a day, between $398 and $424″, according to price-tracking site Decide.com. Around midday, Best Buy boosted the price to $500 from $400 before dropping it back down, while electronics retailer Newegg in the morning raised its price to $600 from $500.”
While dynamic pricing makes online shopping more complicated, there’s a silver lining: By following a few simple steps, it’s easy to land rock-bottom prices.
1. Use price-tracking apps
An app like Price Tracker, available for the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, can help you stay on top of Amazon.com price changes. The Price Tracker Platinum app for Android provides price tracking for Amazon.com, Walmart, Target, and eBay. The Decide app, available for the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, also monitors prices and determines whether now is the right time to buy a particular product.
2. Use price-tracking sites
Check out CamelCamelCamel.com to receive Amazon.com price drop alerts, price history charts, and price watches. Also follow CamelCamelCamel on Twitter to stay informed of additional sales and promotions. Decide.com is another useful site that tracks products, particularly electronics, and determines whether to buy now or wait.
3. Comparison shop
It’s easy to compare prices by visiting multiple sites. But to save time, there are a variety of price-comparing sites to help find the lowest prices in one place. Consider PriceGrabber.com, Pricewatch.com, and Shopping.com.
4. If you see a product’s price drop after a purchase, take a screenshot
If you purchase an item online and later find a lower price for the same item from the same retailer, take a screenshot of the price. While there are no guarantees, if you email the screenshot to the retailer, you might be able to get a refund for the difference.
5. Clear your cookies before shopping
6. Try the abandoned cart strategy
In A Sneaky Way to Get Discounts Online, we explained if you fill up your shopping cart on a retailer’s site but don’t buy anything, you may receive a reminder, discount, or other incentive as a follow-up.
Here’s how it works: Shop the site and add anything you want to your cart. Proceed to check out and fill out enough of the form to enter in your email address. But don’t complete the sale. Wait a day or two and see if you get a special deal or discount in your email inbox.
7. Check your site’s settings
According to a KABC-TV article, if you’re shopping for products on Dell’s website, there’s a way to save hundreds of dollars at checkout. It begins by choosing the correct setting up top; Dell provides various shopping options, such as “For Home,” “For Small and Medium Business,” “For Education, Government, and Healthcare,” and so on. When shopping for a 65-inch Mitsubishi Home Cinema TV, the cost for teachers was $1,499, but the same product cost only $999 if you selected “For Home” or “Small and Medium Business,” the article explains.
Takeaway: Try several settings before making a purchase to be sure you’re getting the best price.
8. Check all options on a retailer’s site
On Amazon.com, be sure to scroll down to see similar products at cheaper prices; the featured or sponsored products up top can cost more. This applies to other sites as well, like Etsy.com. Some sites list product search results by price (from high to low and vice versa), most popular, and so on, so be sure to adjust the way the results are presented and view all available options.
9. Search for promotional codes
In addition to finding the lowest available price online, there are usually additional coupon codes to consider. Simply enter a search for [product name] + “coupon code” in your favorite search engine and see what comes up. Check out RetailMeNot.com for coupon codes, printable coupons, grocery coupons, and free shipping offers, and also visit CouponCodes.com and Coupons.com.
10. Look for shipping discounts
Never pay full price on shipping unless you absolutely have to. You might come across free or discounted shipping offers during your search for coupon codes. Also check out FreeShipping.org for additional deals.