Internet Shopping Tips
Shopping online can save you a bundle. Information and products are at your fingertips. Internet retailers need to be extremely price conscious to stay competitive. When companies compete the consumer wins. These tips will help you get the best deal and have a safe experience.

Look for security

There is a quick way to find out if a site is secure. Look for HTTPS:// instead of HTTP:// in areas of the website where you are entering sensitive financial information. It is common for most websites to switch to their secure pages only when nessicary. You usually won’t see https:// until you’re in the checkout area. If you are entering your credit card information always check before proceeding. If there is no https your information can be easily stolen. When a page is secure it encrypts the data going to and from that page. So even if your data was intercepted it could not be read.

Look for https in the address bar and a lock to verify website security
Look for https and the little lock

If you are entering your credit card information make sure the page is secure. If the page is not secure your information can be easily stolen. Secure pages encrypt data going to and from pages.

Compare Prices

Comparing prices on websites isn’t as easy at might first appear (especially if your searching for a non-standardized item). The first step is to narrow your search to exactly what you want. Find a part # or a model # and search for it in a comparison shopping engine. I prefer Google Products but there are others as well. They have an incentive to place higher paying vendors near the top of the list and their products seem to be less organized.

Avoid the lowest priced vendor (unless you’ve bought from them before). Most of the time they will require that you buy the warranty, a bunch of accessories, and join some mailing list to get the “lowest price”.

Have the deals come to you

Using RSS feeds and some basic filters you can have deals come to you when they are ripe for the picking. Automatic deal finders using RSS is an easy way to get low cost gifts and surprizes for yourself. You will need to be patient but the wait is usually well worth it. Hot items like the Nintendo Wii won’t likely drop in price but just about everything else goes on sale periodically.

If you don’t mind buying used you can also set up a way to search through Craiglists for misplaced bargins. Many times people will post items you want in strange categories or forget to write a good desciptoin. Other bargin shoppers will miss those deals and you’ll have the item delivered to your feed reader.

Look through deal websites

Finding a deal website with up to date offers is a good way to browse for things like laptops, HDTVs, cameras, or other everyday electronic items. All of my laptops and computers come from sites like this because they usually offer more power and features for much less.

Keep all your records

Keep records of your reciept page, the items ordered, and what credit card you used. If you want to return an item or dispute a charge you’ll need all the information you can. Most merchants make it easy to return or cancel an order. For infrequent purchases it’s best to have a folder in your email labeled ‘shopping receipts’ to stay organized. If you buy from individual stores, through Amazon or, keeping these reciepts will be cruitial.

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Look & Compare before you buy.

Price shopping online is an important step to get the best price on new purchases. Finding the lowest price from a dependable website is critical. How do you find trusted items, ratings, and specs?

Narrow your search down to a specific item

If your want to compare prices you need to find the exact product you want. Say your looking for an MP3 player. If you try to compare the prices on the generic term ‘MP3 Player’ you’ll have a hard time pinning down the exact price. Instead, try to find the exact make, model, and brand of MP3 player. You’ll have much more luck knowing you want a 8 GB ipod touch then using a generic search for an MP3 player. This same principle works on all levels, even shopping and negotiating for a new car.

Comparing Ratings & Specs

Once you have your exact product name and description it’s time to read some reviews. When comparing reviews it’s best to have a couple products you want to compare. It might also be good to compare a similar product with differing features. There are a few websites I depend on for ratings and specs. Amazon, NewEgg, and the Manufacturer website are all good resources. You’ll soon find that some reviews and ratings are intelligent and others are…not. Some users will give a vacuum a bad rating because it’s not a toaster. It pays off to dig deeper and see why a product has a good or bad rating. As the number of reviews on a product increase the likely hood of poor reviews unduly effecting the rating is unlikely.

Another quick and dirty way to compare ratings is to simply type your products in a search engine. Your search query might read something like “product I v.s. product II”. There are a lot of websites dedicated to answering your questions.

Search on comparison shopping engines

Once you have your specific product type your search into a comparison shopping engine. In some cases you’ll see the prices here are much less then what you could find any where else.

Google Products (that’s what they’re calling it now-a-days) is great resource. They include tax, shipping, and final cost. The products here are listed free and Google doesn’t make any money off how they display the results. Other comparison shopping engines charge for placement and might not have as many stores as you’d like to see.

Comparing the Best Stores & Prices

WARNING! Buying from a store with the lowest price can be extremely risky. As a general rule anything under 20% should be suspected as potential fraud. The exceptions to this is when the product is refurbished or used. When buying a new digital camera I nearly bought from one of these companies. Luckily I talked with my friend (who’s a great photographer) and he convinced me otherwise. Within 30 seconds of research we found tons of people who got scammed. If you’re tempted to go with the lowest price take the time to research. You’ll be happy you did!

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