Take Advantage of Online Retail Price Wars

Photo (cc) by bokeh burger

Online retail price wars are heating up. In fact, some online retailers fluctuate the prices of consumer items – from toilet paper to microwave ovens and televisions – several times each day, according to price-tracking site Decide.com.

“Last month, retailers on Amazon.com changed prices on a Samsung 43-inch plasma television four times over the course of a day, between $398 and $424, according to Decide.com. Around midday, Best Buy boosted the price to $500 from $400 before dropping it back down, while electronics retailer Newegg in the morning raised its price to $600 from $500,” reported The Wall Street Journal.

Given the increasingly competitive and confusing online marketplace, who comes out on top? You do – if you play your cards right. When it comes to online pricing changes, patience and research can go a long way. Here are some more things savvy shoppers should look out for…

1. Lowered prices on brick-and-mortar companion sites

Almost every major retailer has an online shopping site. Many of those retailers use their companion sites to compete with the bigger online retailers. For example, in Best Buy May Cut Prices Online, we reported that Best Buy might be trying harder to compete with online competitors like Amazon – which could lead to price cuts.

And while that doesn’t mean brick-and-mortar stores always have the cheapest prices online, you might find good deals shopping their sites now that they’re getting more competitive, especially if you stack their sales with a coupon, free site-to-store shipping, or another discount.

2. Easy returns

Most stores in my area have a 30-day limit on returns, which makes things like early holiday shopping difficult. After all, I don’t want to buy a gift in October that the recipient can’t return in December. This limited return policy is part of why I shop online.

Many online retailers have longer return periods (and more ways to return a product) than their brick-and-mortar competitors, especially during the holidays. For example, HSN.com is offering returns from now until Jan. 31, 2013. Check out How to Spot the Best Return Policies for Your Holiday Shopping for more.

3. Promotional codes

Coupons make a good deal a great one, but your discount options at brick-and-mortar stores are limited to the coupons you have in hand. When shopping online, you only need the promotional code, and the Internet gives you access to hundreds of them. Here are a few of my favorite coupon code sites:

I never finish checking out without doing an Internet search for a promotional code or coupon. Nine times out of 10 I find a working code. Sure, it may only be 10 percent off or free shipping, but a discount’s a discount.

4. Daily deals

Daily deal sites compile individual daily deals and post them on their site or email them out in a newsletter.

During the holidays, these sites are like my personal shopping assistant. I know I should probably get gifts for extended family, casual friends, and a few neighbors, but I don’t know what to get them and don’t want to spend a lot. So I check out a few daily deal sites until I see a good price on something fitting for the recipient. I get a good deal, and I don’t have to spend hours shopping for someone I don’t know that well. Here are a few of the sites I check daily:

5. Live chats

Brick-and-mortar stores used to have one big advantage over online stores: sales reps. You could visit a store, haggle with the sales rep, and walk out with a discount. Now many online stores have online chats. I used to ignore these little pop-up boxes, but I recently learned how wrong I’ve been.

Last month I was looking for a new couch on an online designer-furniture retailer, Fashion for Home. I found a couch I loved, but I didn’t love the price tag. As I was looking for a coupon code (to no avail), a chat window popped up, “How can I help you today?” On a whim I responded with, “Is this the best price you can do on this couch?” Immediately the person on the other end came back with a 10 percent discount. Thinking that happened too quickly, I asked for an even better price, this time saying I had seen similar pieces at competitor sites for less and was leaning toward them. A few minutes later, the sales rep upped the offer to a 20 percent discount. I saved about $200 just by asking.

6. The abandoned cart trick

If you walk into a department store, fill your cart, and then walk out, leaving everything in an aisle, the store isn’t going to call you a few days later and offer you a discount on what you left behind – but online retailers might. In A Sneaky Way to Get Discounts Online, we reported that some online retailers are following up on abandoned carts. Sure, you may just get a pesky reminder email, but you might score a discount too. Here is how it works:

  • Shop the site and add anything you want to your cart.
  • Proceed to checkout and fill out enough of the form to enter in your email address.
  • Don’t complete the sale.
  • Wait a day or two and see if you get a special deal or discount in your email inbox.

As an added bonus, waiting a day or two to buy something may be all the time you need to realize you didn’t want the item in the first place. Then you’ve saved 100 percent.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
33 Home Upgrades That Cost Less Than $100
33 Home Upgrades That Cost Less Than $100

A little money goes a long way with these imaginative projects. You can do most of them yourself.

7 Ways to Save Money Without Trying
7 Ways to Save Money Without Trying

Saving money doesn’t always mean drudgery and sacrifice. These tools make it easy — sometimes even fun.

If My Spouse Dies, Can I Get Her Social Security?
If My Spouse Dies, Can I Get Her Social Security?

If a spouse dies, will the survivor collect the other’s share in addition to his or her own?

7 Bank Accounts With Extra Perks for Seniors
7 Bank Accounts With Extra Perks for Seniors

These accounts offer exclusive discounts and other perks — including interest — to older customers.

Beware These 3 Tax Penalties on Retirement Accounts
Beware These 3 Tax Penalties on Retirement Accounts

Protecting a nest egg is tough — but you can make the situation far worse with some boneheaded mistakes.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

Whether you resell it for a big profit or add it to your own wardrobe, this type of clothing is a hidden steal.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds
Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds

Resolve to be clutter-free in 2021 with these secondhand purchases.

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

10 Cars You Are Most Likely to Keep for 15 Years
10 Cars You Are Most Likely to Keep for 15 Years

The cars that owners hold onto the longest have one thing in common, a new study shows.

11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It
11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It

Seriously? Fibbing about the weather is a crime? This and other little-known legal traps await the unwary.

Is This Treatable Condition Causing Your High Blood Pressure?
Is This Treatable Condition Causing Your High Blood Pressure?

Researchers say too many doctors are overlooking this potential source of hypertension.

13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free
13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free

There are many ways to get cheap or free services and goods after reaching a certain age.

Taking a Multivitamin? Here’s Why You Should Reconsider
Taking a Multivitamin? Here’s Why You Should Reconsider

A new study has bad news for the millions of Americans who spend money on multivitamins.

21 Items to Cut From Your Budget That You Won’t Even Miss
21 Items to Cut From Your Budget That You Won’t Even Miss

Start off the new year by implementing these small-but-smart savings strategies. They’ll soon add up.

Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore
Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore

Starting this month, your ISP no longer can bill you for this fee.

9 Things You Should Never Leave in a Car
9 Things You Should Never Leave in a Car

Thinking of leaving these possessions in a car? Prepare for unexpected consequences.

Prepare to Pay More for These 31 Drugs in 2021
Prepare to Pay More for These 31 Drugs in 2021

More than 700 prescription medications have seen price hikes so far this year. Here’s a look at the worst.

15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021
15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021

Follow these tips to save, so you’ll have money for things that really matter.

5 States Lowering Taxes This Year and 2 Raising Them
5 States Lowering Taxes This Year and 2 Raising Them

State personal income tax rates, brackets and deductions just changed in these places.

This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia
This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia

Nearly half of U.S. residents may face this threat.

7 Tricks to Cleaning Your Bathroom Faster
7 Tricks to Cleaning Your Bathroom Faster

These tips can get your bathroom sparkling with little time and no elbow grease.

20 Amazon Purchases We Loved in 2020
20 Amazon Purchases We Loved in 2020

These practical products made everyday life a little easier last year — and will do so in the new year, too.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.