Consumers often pay too much for the items they buy, trading economy for
the ease of visiting a local store and "being sold" what they need.
It's true that smaller, local stores often have more knowledgeable staff
than mass merchandisers or online retailers, increasing the chances that
a consumer will buy what they need and want. However, consumers who
do their own initial legwork and research on a product or service can
decide on their own what they need, and then comparison shop for the best
deals. While comparison shopping is time consuming, consumers who do
comparison shop can save hundreds of dollars on large ticket items.
Indeed, the Consumer Literacy Consortium, a group that was formed to
educate consumers, estimates that a household that consistently
comparison shops can save up to $1,000 per year!
See their 66 Ways to Save Money brochure for some good comparison shopping tips.
Comparison shopping is the process of evaluating the specifications,
quality, and pricing of similar products from different suppliers.
Comparison shoppers may begin the process by window shopping online or
at local retail stores; they often purchase a product after reviewing
information from a variety of sources. These sources may include
Internet product and pricing research, phone calls to check prices, and
current magazines for product reviews and ratings. A recent study
showed that today's consumers need potential savings of only 10 to 25
percent to encourage them to comparison shop among at least three vendors.
Everyone needs to buy food on a regular basis and comparison shopping can
help consumers save money. Many people comparison shop by going to
different stores or checking out different sales flyers. Grocery
shoppers might compare the price of these mandarin oranges at several
different stores before deciding to make a purchase.
Today, shoppers can easily comparison shop online. Comparison
shopping websites feature Internet product directories where consumers
can search for items and compare prices from multiple vendors.
Online shopping sites often charge different prices for the same item, so
it is important to check prices and shipping costs from several online
retailers before making an impulse purchase. Customer service and
return policies vary from store to store, so it is also wise to consider
these issues before buying a product that might need to be returned for
credit or a refund. Finally, when all other factors are equal, you
may wish to shop at a Better Business Bureau (BBB) Accredited business.
Comparison shopping informs the consumer about where the best deals can
be found, and most people comparison shop for certain items in order to
save money. This photo shows a little girl holding out a red apple
and a green apple. Comparison shopping for apples may give the
consumer a good idea of a store's prices on other goods.
Interestingly, many shopping websites feature the same product data
because web merchants often distribute their products through a wide
range of shopping sites. However, the best comparison shopping
sites display their products like well-stocked stores, and even offer
product descriptions, coupons, and shipping promotions, as well as
generous return policies and user-submitted reviews. Recent
innovations include local search capabilities for brick-and-mortar stores
and price check support for wireless devices such as cell phones.
Price comparison sites and shopping search engines are popular Internet
destinations, but online shoppers can also benefit by reading consumer
ratings and browsing manufacturer websites for product specifications,
illustrations, and suggested retail prices.
Consumers need not shop on the Internet in order to get discounts.
One strategy is to comparison shop on the Internet to find
price ranges, and then pick up the phone and call local retailers to
compare their prices. Many sellers offer to match or beat other retailers'
prices, and some will offer discounts to knowledgeable consumers upon request.
Another strategy is to visit local retailers, smartphone in hand, and use an
mobile shopping app.
A factory outlet mall is an ideal place to comparison shop
for apparel, shoes and accessories as well as small appliances and
home decor products. Prices are discounted and you can often
compare similar products at several stores. www.OutletMalls.us
This informational site, created by the American Bar Association,
will help you order safely when shopping online. You'll find that
cyber-shopping is fast, convenient, and opens up a whole new world
of merchandise for you and your family. www.SafeShopping.org