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Your Unique Path to Purchase

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Have the perfect method or site to find the best deals on the things you want? This author doesn’t. But more importantly, if you still think you do after reading this article, then it has failed.

The way the Internet increases transparency within the buying process affects even the computer challenged. They get deals simply because of stiffer competition. Regardless of whether a purchase is ultimately made online or off, the Internet has influence. The shopping process is not a science and, dare I say, it could be viewed as an art. Rather than the "this store" or "that store" binary choices of the past, the list of variables in a purchase decision has grown and continues to do so. Online or in-store retailer choices, available discounts, shipping cost, speed, returns and exchange policies and timeframes; just some of the considerations. And we should not forget options like free two-way shipping (a la Zappos) and online to in-store returns (a la Best Buy). Both services can be very handy when purchasing items sans 100% confidence; the fit of clothing, the sound of an audio component.

If purchasing feels like an art to some, these people know that even while they may be happy with their score of a deal, they cannot be entirely sure it was the best. Even sites that compare prices from numerous retailers, like Google, do not integrate the bevy of options that coupon codes, credit card/merchant offers and more such as the above mentioned bring into play.

I am guilty of buying practically anything efficient to ship, online. From non-GMO organic popcorn kernels to many different types of clothes, I’ve had it shipped. Though I find it’s possible to get deals on many things online, sometimes it’s hard to tell how much time will be practical to spend hunting for an unknown amount of savings. That impossible to answer question is probably the most difficult variable in the cyber shopping efficiency equation. Maybe this is way off the nerd deep end for you, so an attempt at practicality follows.

I would suggest that your path to purchase is item (category) specific, based on the location where you want it (often your home), how soon you need it and return policy. Therefore, everyone should really have a unique method, regardless of item. I created a cheat sheet, with flow, for the electronics category. The further down the bulleted list you go, I am guesstimating, the more likelihood to waste time and less to find additional savings. I am sure you will find improvements. Feel free to comment!

And while there may not be a perfect method, having a thought out go-to method that works for you doesn't hurt.

Building Great Deals

Remember to factor in tax, shipping and possibility of return. BestBuy.com and some other sites let you return in-store.

Electronics Likelihood for savings decreases moving towards end of list.

  1. SlickDeals search for product or specific sub-category
  2. Available and convenient in-store at Best Buy? They price match Amazon and these 18 other stores like Target and Sears! (often ideal)
  3. Amazon.com (likely free shipping) and above list of 18 stores at your discretion
  4. RetailMeNot coupon search for any/all stores above stocking product
  5. Company/Union benefits links/discount offers
  6. Which of your credit card(s) offers the best incentive or most points to purchase at a particular retailer or type store (don't forget!)

Copyright © 2014 David J. Martel. Subscribe above to receive an email when David publishes on Examiner. Follow @DavidJMartel on Twitter.

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