I talk about one of my favorite free tools to optimize the holiday and big ticket shopping experience. How to find price history for an item to determine whether you’re actually getting a good deal. Data that will help you determine when the best time to buy is, plus price tracking features to alert you when the price hits your target number.
The holiday season is almost upon us. For some that means breaking out war paint and scoping out the best doorbuster deals for right after Thanksgiving dinner. For others, it might mean a lazy search in one’s pj’s for some online deals. Whatever the form, most of us are probably planning to give the holiday deals at least a quick perusal.
Readers who were around last year probably saw the research on how Black Friday and Holiday deals compared to the rest of the year. For those that weren’t around at the time, here’s the short version:
Holidays deals are mostly meh. Many vendors start increasing prices in October so they can show a huge ‘discount’ by the time Black Friday rolls around.
I know a lot of families wait for the holidays to make their big ticket purchases for the year like electronics and home goods. And purchases for family and friends can easily add up into the hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Is there a way to make sure you’re getting at least a decent deal on these expensive purchases?
There sure is.
A site called CamelCamelCamel has scraped years of data on Amazon listings for every product under the sun. With a quick search, you can see the highest, lowest, and average price the item was sold for in the past year, and compare it to the price you’re considering paying now.
(FYI, I don’t make anything from talking about how awesome they are – I’m just excited a site full of data exists like this for free!)
Here’s an example I recently ran. As you know, we have a kiddo coming soon, which means $$$.
There is so much cool data here. I can see that this super cute cradle n swing is currently selling for $131.44, but that as recently as January it dropped as low as $100. I can see that a year farther back in history – also in January – the price again dropped to below $100. Can I wait until January to buy this item? Sure can. Kiddo isn’t due for a while. And even if it doesn’t actually drop that far, given the price history, it looks like I’m only getting an average deal right now. Odds are even if it doesn’t drop to $100 (a 30% price reduction!), I’m unlikely to have to pay more than the current price quote if I wait.
It’s not worth my time to constantly check the listing to try and save $30, but fortunately, I can set a tracker so the site can notify me if the item falls below a certain price. Then all I have to do is hop online and click purchase when all the stars align.
A word of advice: try a test alert to make sure the notifications don’t get lost in your spam filter. There would be nothing sadder than to set up this smart system for yourself, and then have it all fail because the message got lost in your inbox.
Curbing Impulse Purchases
I’ve been using CamelCamelCamel ever since I found and wrote about it a year ago. However, I only recently installed their plug-in, and it’s been a real upgrade. Here are the two advantages I’ve experienced, #2 being a direct result of #1:
- It helps me do all of the above in a much lazier fashion, with much less friction. I don’t even have to run the search – I just click the little camel icon of the plug-in and all the historical data for the item I’m looking at pops up, along with the ability to set a price watch.
- You would be surprised how often just seeing this data curbs your desire to make a purchase. Seeing that you’re getting a slight worse than average deal does a lot to make you pause and ask yourself whether you really need Thingy Doohickey #1. I used to only run the searches for purchases that were $100 or more because of the effort it took to jump over to the site. Now I just click the plug in on almost every purchase because there’s so little friction.
This has been so game-changing for me. We have a ton of baby purchases coming down the line, and marketers are genius at making every baby thing look cute and ‘reasonably priced’. Every baby doohickey is under $20 which normally flies under my instinctual ‘find a good deal’ radar. But the plug-in was right there so I’d check because it couldn’t hurt. I have already stopped myself from buying five things because the price history plug-in made me realize these deals weren’t really ‘deals’.
There may be some good deals to be had during the holiday ‘discount’ months, but they require careful fact-checking as retailers are savvy about creating hype for deals that aren’t really great deals. You can make your life easier by letting technology provide you the data you need to make a smart decision. Happy holiday shopping!
What are you scoping out for your big end of year purchase? Any other tools or sites you like to use to ensure you’re getting the best deal?