Simple Ways to Shop Around

By Sarah Winfrey on 12 December 2006 (Updated 10 June 2007) 4 comments

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.

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 item where this information wasn’t available in exchange for a little poking around.

Decide which elements are important to you, and which ones 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.

Google search.

I know, I know, you’re saying, “Duh, Sarah!” But I’m serious. In my wedding-planning-frenzy, this probably worked 8 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.

Don’t forget Amazon.com

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.

Finally, when in doubt, E-Bay.

I didn’t actually purchase much for the wedding on E-Bay, but I did some serious pricing research there. E-Bay 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.

Tagged: Shopping, Amazon, eBay
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Will Chen's picture

I do this sometimes at B&M stores as well.

Just last week I saw some really cool shoes at Macy's. But I knew they were over priced. I tried them on anyway knowing that I wouldn't buy it at Macy's. I went home, googled the shoes (as well as using shopping.com and pricegrabber.com) and found a much better deal for the same shoes at an online store.

The time spent at Macy's was invaluable, though, since you never really know if a pair of shoes will fit you right unless you try them on in person.

Lynn Truong's picture

my friend was looking for a jacket and found one he liked at Gap. but they didn't have his size. he actually found the exact one in his size on ebay for half the price (brand new).

Guest's picture
Rob in Madrid

googling around can save a ton of money. When my wife finally bought a new excercise machine (and yes she uses it) we used amazon.com to get the reviews and google to find the best price. Quite surprisingly we found the cheapest price was in Germany by about 300 eruos, and too boot free shipping to Spain!

Shopping around even if the price is the same can result in free shipping, but beware (at least in Europe) not every online retailer offers free return shipping.

Guest's picture
Katy

Congratulations on your wedding! My wedding day (2nd marriage) was the happiest day of my life - and cost nexttonuthin! Thrift store clothes, city hall just of the peace; yes. What we shopped for was how to pay the *least* money with maximum value. We got ideas on the dollar stretcher. www.stretcher.com

Congrats again.