Simple Ways to Shop Around
I’m getting married in less than 4 weeks. If it weren’t for the Internet, I wouldn’t be having a wedding. Or, rather, I’d be having half a wedding, because that would be all I’d be able to afford. But with the help of some thoughtful friends and a few easy Internet search techniques, I am having a whole wedding at about half the price I would have paid without the deals I found online.
As I shopped online for my wedding dress, reception favors, and more wedding accessories than I care to count, I realized that online deals are not just for saving on weddings. There are online deals for everything, if you know how and where to look for them. Here are some easy steps to finding those deals.
1. Shop Brand Name Stores Online — But Don’t Buy
This is your research. For most items, you will be able to think of a store that should sell them and whose quality should be good. Find the item that is exactly what you want.
Instead of purchasing the item (unless you arrive at the site to discover that they’re having a fabulous sale), find out all you can about the features and craftsmanship of this particular item. This information will be more or less difficult to find depending on the store and the item, but I didn’t run across a single product where this information wasn’t available in exchange for a little poking around.
2. Decide What's Important to You, and What You Can Do Without
Once you know how the best example you can find of the item you want is made, you can make some decisions. Does your cashmere sweater have to be from Mongolia, or will India do as well? Do you need an absolutely-positively waterproof messenger bag, or will a water-resistant one work just as well for your purposes? Divide the list of features so that you know what is essential and what you’re willing to give and take on.
3. Google Search
I know, I know, you’re saying, “Duh, Sarah!” But I’m serious. In my wedding-planning-frenzy, this probably worked eight times out of 10. Once I had my list of essential features, I Googled the item I was looking for and flipped through the pages that came up, evaluating the features each store offered. Normally, I found something that had all the features I had deemed essential and, often, some of those that were just nice perks.
4. Don’t Forget Amazon
I can’t tell you how important Amazon was in my search for items. Their affiliated sellers have many products at prices that astounded me. Their in-stock selection is not always what it would appear to be, but I didn’t have any serious problems. If you can give them time, they can usually get it in.
5. When in Doubt, eBay
I didn’t actually purchase much for the wedding on eBay, but I did some serious pricing research there. eBay gave me a good sense of the real market value of some of the items I was looking for, and helped me determine if I was really getting a good deal. For instance, I didn’t find my exact wedding dress for sale there, but I found some that were similar enough that I knew a good deal when I saw it.