Vol.1, No.5

Tips for online bargain hunters

Tips for online bargain hunters including clubs, online forums, refurbished merchandise, Ebay, and clearance.

Online sale sign
Photo Credit: Jason Pacheco
Thanks to the Internet, bargain hunters worldwide have been provided with a nearly unlimited supply of possible deals. With the competition so widespread though, there are many vendors vying to get new customers and more importantly, to keep them coming back. From websites representing your favorite conglomerates such as Sears, Wal-Mart, or Barnes and Noble, to small mom and pop online storefronts, the possibility of bargains exist on nearly every page click. The problem is many of them are not true bargains; they are just teasers to get you to their sites. However, it is possible to weed out the true bargains from the abundance of fake offers that can consume literally hours of your shopping time. Following a few basic tips and strategies can help you make purchases that are honest to goodness bargains, and avoid time-wasting shams that are overly abundant online.

- Shop only stores that you either have shopped in person or have at least researched. Shopping a store that you have never heard of before you stumbled into it during an online search is risky. Throwing up a storefront online is relatively easy, making it too easy for unscrupulous people to take advantage of others just trying to save a few dollars.

- Become a regular of an online bargain hunting service or bulletin board. Members share leads and information on deals. To find one, do an online search for a shopping discount forum or daily deal forum. Once a member you will be pleasantly surprised at the amount of information that is shared. By everyone pitching in and mutually looking for deals, everyone saves time and great bargains can be more conveniently discovered.

- Do not overlook online stores that specifically cater to bargain shoppers. Overstock.com is one such store. Based on the same format as a brick and mortar discount outlet, they buy in bulk to keep costs down. Overstock seems to have taken this one-step further by buying closeouts and small lots in bulk, with the incredible savings passed on to their customers.

- Shipping should always be a consideration when shopping for bargains online. What starts out as a great bargain can quickly lose its appeal once shipping and handling charges are added. Research sites shipping policies before you spend an abundant amount of time shopping.

- Clubs that offer members deep discounts in return for a regular fee, be it monthly, quarterly, or even yearly, can be a deal if they sell merchandise that you regularly purchase. If you will not make regular purchases though, the cost of any membership fee can quickly outweigh any savings promised.

- Always check bargain basements, clearance, closeouts, and sale sections on websites.

- Consider refurbished items if you are comfortable doing so. Carefully check the warranty differences in comparison to the same item new. Read the fine print carefully and if a description is given of the exact item you are considering, read it entirely.

- Books, DVD's, and CD's can be purchased for deep discounts at storefronts such as Half.com. As stated before, read the fine print and descriptions of merchandise thoroughly, and then enjoy the bargain price. While often not suitable as a gift item, a book that has already been read is still the same book as one priced five, even ten times the price at your average bookstore.

- Ebay and other budding online auction sites are all great places to get a bargain as long as you shop safely and wisely. Follow all the precautions that the sites offer possible purchasers and bid on a few small items until you are comfortable maneuvering through the auction process.

By bringing a world of stores into our very own homes and workplaces, bargain shopping is one of the greatest things that the Internet has provided its users.