Whether Black Friday, New Years or other, online sales are booming business and can easily suck the innocent consumer into buying things they never wanted in the first place. But, shop well, and you can end up with a genuine bargain.
I’m quite an organised chap and, I think, I’m quite good at negotiating myself around the average online sale. So, consider this my recommendations and general guide on getting the best out of any online opportunity.
Tip 1: It’s not a bargain if you didn’t need it
That Sid Owen canvas clock may have been half price but, before you saw it in the sale, did you need a clock, let alone that one? If you didn’t, even the £5 you finally paid for it is just wasted money.
My suggestion here? Wish lists. I use the Amazon Wish List service, which not only tracks products from them but other stores as well (and for those products in their inventory, it will keep track of the product availability and price too). Throughout the year, add items to wish lists that you would like – then use these lists exclusively to work out what to shop for during the sales.
And, as I’ve discussed before, there are a number of unexpected benefits to using wish lists.
Tip 2: Don’t hold out for the perfect item
Perfect is the enemy of the goodVoltaire
This is a prescient quote – so many people will have in mind the perfect item, whereas there are many others, 99% as good, which may represent a much better bargain. So, don’t restrict yourself to look out for one version of a product – consider alternatives too.
So, you could buy Product X in the sales for, say, £50 or you could wait and buy Product Y, not in the sales, for £100. Yet X is nearly as good as Y. Is it really worth that £50 difference?
Going back to the wish list, nearer the time of any sale look at the items that you’ve added and find similar ones that you’d be equally happy with. However, be aware that consumer reviews (i.e. where purchasers have reviewed the items) are rife with issues, including people being paid to give positive scores. So, I use ReviewMeta.com (other similar sites are available) to verify a review.
Tip 3: Make sure it really is a bargain
You know, that bargain item is quite possibly that knock-down price for most of the rest of the year too, right?
There are some great price tracking sites out there, but most are for some very specific products or a specific retailer. The one I use, for Amazon, is camelcamelcamel, which includes a handy browser extension. As well as telling you, via a single click, the history of the item’s price, you can also set up alerts to be told when the item drops below a specific threshold. If you’re a big user of Amazon, I’d recommend using this before snatching up any potential bargain!
Tip 4: Prepare for the sale
If a sale is coming up, prepare for it. Take those wish lists that you have and create another, seperate version, just for the sale. Copy into it anything that you really want if it comes on offer now. If the item regularly drops in price and isn’t urgent, it can be left. Congeal your lists down to what you want now or soon and concentrate on that.
During the sale, don’t look at your other lists – only this newly created sales list.
As I write this it’s Black Friday. Am I following my own advice?
Of course I am.
I’m solely looking at a single Amazon wish list, which contains just the important items that I’m looking for (inc. potential Christmas presents). In fact, some items were on sale yesterday, which were snapped up. But, otherwise, on the actual day… nothing. And with all the razzmatazz and excitement that accompanies such sales it would be easy to be sucked into buying things that, really, you don’t actually want. As a result, I’ll be coming away from this day with nothing. No bargains had but, equally, no money wasted.