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Posted: 6:00 a.m. Thursday, May 15, 2014

Find The Best Prices Online

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By Clark Howard

ClarkHoward.com


Are you getting the best price when you shop online? Follow these simple steps and you'll be able to score the real deals!

Airlines have long used something called dynamic demand pricing (aka yield management) to determine the price of seats on flights. Historical analysis of sales, behavioral patterns of buyers, the rate of bookings and, even unemployment rates, among other factors, control the price per seat. No two seats are sold for the same price.

Now that idea has been spreading to other consumer segments, particularly online selling.

A recent Wall Street Journal analysis of prices on a high-end microwave was particularly revealing. The pricing changed nine times in a single day from $899 to $744. Not on a similar item -- on the same exact item.

Even within an hour, price can change three times from the same online seller!

Websites and apps that help you find the best deals online

So the price is not necessarily the price. Most people won't obsess to the degree of checking prices nine times a day. At the most, they'll just comparison shop once among two or more websites.

But if you really want the best deal, you must check not just once or twice, but repeatedly. If you feel your time is worth more than the potential savings, that's fine. Don't do it. But knowing that prices never stop moving is very important if you're looking for the absolute lowest price.

If you want an easy way to see if a quoted price is a deal or not, you can use a browser bookmarklet such as Hukkster. There's also a website called DealNews.com that will identify deals based on a 5-circle system. DealsNews is, hands down, my favorite website for shopping deals.

Another alternative would be to install a browser plug-in like Invisible Hand that automatically pops up an alert while you're shopping if a better price is available on another website.

Then I've seen a slew of newer websites come along that you can add to your arsenal of strategies to land a deal.

Nifti.com is a website that will track an item for you and let you know the price trends. Should you buy now or should you wait until prices drop? This website lets you see which way prices are headed.

Ever been frustrated by coupon code websites with codes that don't work? CNBC.com reports that Chippmunk.com  says they will not publish any code that is not valid at the time. If they can deliver on that, that's going to huge!

For grocery shoppers, there's also a site called Checkout 51. It's like a cash-back program for supermarkets. This app lets you save on the brands you love: Get new offers weekly, buy from any store, snap a photo of the receipt, and get cash back once you have a minimum of $20 in rewards!

Finally, there's one of my favorite old standbys for Amazon customers.  Shoppers can typically get a better deal if they put something in their cart and then abandon it before the final purchase. That usually signals to Amazon that you're willing to walk away and triggers a lower price the next time you put it in your cart to checkout. Give it a try!

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