They’re alien, warmly lit worlds where logic and reason fog into obscurity and all the odds are stacked in the shop keeper’s favour. You’re in their environment now. They know the lay of the land and have all the clever answers…
However, this is one area where modern technology is your friend. If you can keep you head and get to a smartphone, laptop or a nearby Internet café there are several things you can do to give yourself the edge.
1. Use your mobile phone to quickly scan items and find you a better price online
There’s an ingenious little app you can get on your iPhone, Android or Windows phone called Red Laser that cross references some of the best prices available online for you for most items which have a barcode.
It’s free and easy to use. You simply open the app on your phone and it’ll instruct you to place the item’s barcode under your phone camera. Once it’s ‘locked on’ it’ll check major retailers and websites for the best price. It can even pinpoint nearby shops where the item is available on the map. Magic.
If you find a better price on your phone let the salesperson know about it and ask them if they can beat it. You may find they suddenly have some bargaining leeway.
I did this in my local electrical store and while they didn’t beat the price on my washing machine they matched it and threw in free delivery.
2. Check price comparison websites for an instant breakdown of the some of the best deals online
Sometimes you can’t get to an items barcode or it’s inconvenient to scan… or it simply doesn’t have one!
In these cases it’s worth hitting the price comparison websites. Two of the best, most recognised price comparison sites you can find online are:
Both of these are excellent.
If you know the model number of the product you’re after, great, if not enter the brand and the product type (for example ‘Smeg fridge’) and you should see a list of the various models on offer.
Click on the relevant one and it’ll give you a breakdown of the highest and lowest prices currently available. You can usually drill down further to include the cost of delivery.
Tip: Google also have a price comparison tool called ‘Shopping’ which I’ve circled and arrowed in this screenshot here:
3. There are an Aladdin’s cave of deals to be found on Amazon and eBay
They really are home to some of the best bargains but they don’t usually up on price comparison searches.
Make sure you visit both sites to see if anyone’s selling the item you’re after. Be a bit broader in your search term in case the seller hasn’t included the exact model number in the total.
Remember it’s not just second hand goods on offer, brand new ‘buy it now’ goods are now just as prevalent.
4. Get off the Internet and into the auction room for the very best deals!
Ever wonder why the teams on TV auction shows like Bargain Hunt almost always LOSE money trying to sell their car boot ‘bargains’ at auction?
It’s because auctions are where savvy shoppers go to pick up a bargain. If you really want to save money (and in fact if you want to make money as an online trader) you need to take advantage of auction houses. We’re lucky in this country in that there are literally dozens taking place across the UK every week.
Often you can pick up outrageous bargains up for a fraction of their true resale value. A good place to start is the UKAuctioneers website which gives you a list of upcoming auctions and events.
5. Why pay at all? See if you can get it for free, a swap or a knock down price by checking these 2 websites
When people move house in a hurry or don’t want to go through the hassle of auctioning everything off on eBay, they often turn to a website called Gumtree. You can find some truly amazing offers on here. In fact often you can get items for free providing you can arrange transport and pick the item up.
Freecycle is another great resource where you can pick up items for free or for a swap. Search for a community near you and register to see what items are being offered.
Please note: Be careful when using these sites (particularly Gumtree) because there is no buyer protection in the sense that you’re dealing direct with the seller with no middleman or payment gateway like PayPal. Try, where possible, to look at the goods on offer in person first.
6. When you pay for something online make sure you get a kickback where possible
I’m a huge fan of Cashback websites. They really do offer you money for nothing and for incredibly little effort. I’ve covered this at length on Insider’s Edge and you can find out more information about this here.
I’ve personally saved several hundred pounds using Cashback websites and use them for everything from booking holidays to doing the weekly food shop. It’s well worth doing.
That’s it! 6 ways to give yourself the insider’s edge when shopping.
Have you used any of the techniques listed above? Or have you come up with any useful price comparison tricks of your own? Please leave a comment below.