Sorry, kids. Back-to-school season has officially arrived.
In the midst of uncomfortable introductions and lame ice-breaking activities, there is a lone bright spot in all this back-to-school nonsense: shopping! There’s something about a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils that I still find incredibly appealing. In fact, school supply shopping made the end of my summer freedom almost bearable.
Along with the deals and sales come consumer studies analyzing buyer behavior. The National Retail Federation reports 36 percent of parents will do more online comparison shopping than in years past in pursuit of the best deals. This makes good sense (and cents!) given all the awesome tools available for comparison shopping. I recently offered local viewers the following roundup of the best resources I’ve come across.
PriceGrabber – This is probably my favorite comparison-shopping tool because it’s so easy to use. PriceGrabber.com covers millions of products and instantly shows me where I can find the best value. However, shoppers should keep in mind that coupons and promotions are not factored into these search results. You may end up paying less for an item that’s priced higher if you have a coupon code.
RedLaser App – Download this free app to scan the barcode of an item you’re looking at in-store and instantly comparison shop with other local retailers. The RedLaser app also provides you with online pricing which is helpful in two ways: one, you can easily determine if the item is better purchased online and two, you can see if a store manager is willing to price-match by showing him or her your phone.
InkjetWilly – There are three products I really hate to buy: razors, batteries and printer ink. Interestingly, all of these products have huge mark-ups and few alternatives. While InkjetWilly.com can’t shave your legs or keep your remote working, it can help you avoid dropping $30 on printer ink. Input your printer series, make and model and get search results from top online ink sellers and their respective prices. One tip for back-to-college printer shopping — buy a printer that takes compatible or remanufactured ink. You’ll save a bundle!
ShopGenius – This is a pretty slick tool. It’s a browser add-on that works seamlessly with your online shopping efforts. My mother-in-law recently mentioned her desire for a Ninja blender, so I went to Target’s website to check out their pricing. The ShopGenius app showed up and alerted me to a better price for the same blender at Amazon (surprise, surprise). I’ve noticed ShopGenius doesn’t work for all products just yet, but it’s a pretty nice resource nonetheless.
Decide – Decide.com is the virtual equivalent to a crystal ball. Ask it if it’s the best time to buy a laptop and it will give you a “yes” or “no” answer, along with price history graphs, expert and user reviews and overall product “grades.” Though you have to provide your email address, I find a promotions-only address is a great workaround to this common problem.
What tools do you use when comparing prices?