Episode 56: December 5, 2012
by Eric Escobar
The holidays are approaching and if you’re anything like me, you want to do all the research possible before pulling the trigger on that perfect gift. So in this week’s episode, I’ll be going over how to use technology to make your holiday shopping easier.
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Full disclosure: I hate shopping.
I hate shopping so much that I still wear clothes from high school because I don’t want to go shopping for new ones. The only time I get new clothes is when my girlfriend drags me kicking and screaming to the store and helps me pick something out. Of course, I’m always thankful to her for making me do it, after the fact. I think everyone has one or two things they always procrastinate on. And for me it’s shopping. For anything.
Luckily though, the internet pretty much makes this process painless. So let’s go over some of the ways that you can use the internet to help you get the best deals quickly, easily, cheaply, and with the least amount of hassle:
How to Use Amazon
One of my favorite places to buy online merchandise is Amazon.com. This is because they have a wide selection of items to choose from, their prices are mostly competitive, and they have an awesome return policy.
So here’s what I do to get the most out of my Amazon account. First, I sign up for Amazon Prime for a whopping $80. I know that this doesn’t sound like the greatest thing in the world, but it qualifies you for free two-day shipping on most Amazon products. Plus, this free shipping can also be shared with 4 additional people. So if you have four friends or family members who also want free shipping, you could split the cost of the $80 Prime account and recoup much of the investment in a single purchase. Now I’ll be the first to point out that if you don’t buy a lot on Amazon, then this may not be the best deal in the world for you. However, even without the Amazon Prime membership, you can still get free shipping on many items you buy, as long as your order is over $25. And with the holidays coming up, you’ll likely spend more than that on presents for loved ones anyway.
The next thing I recommend you do is download the Amazon Price Check app. This app is available for Android and iPhone, and it allows you to scan the barcode of a physical item in any store and compare it to what Amazon has available online. This is a great tool to make sure you get the best deal no matter where you are.
But it gets even better! This app has been out for a while and it is costing brick-and-mortar stores a ton of money in lost sales. So now, many physical stores are implementing price matching policies. That means if you scan an item in the store and find it cheaper on Amazon, the store will give you the item for Amazon’s low price. Which means no waiting for the item to ship!
How to Save Time Shopping
Okay, so life isn’t perfect for me and at some point I will need to venture out of my cave and brave the sunlight and the crowds. Fortunately, when I do emerge into the holiday madness, I always have a plan of attack. I research what I need to buy ahead of time, and then I call (yes, call!) the store to make sure they have whatever it is that I need in stock. Then I ask the sales clerk to hold the item I want until I get there. This saves me time searching for whatever it is I need, and helps avoid those ugly battles over the last Furby on the shelf. I’ve driven all the way across town and come back empty-handed too many times!
Also, it really pays to do your homework before you buy an item. If you are buying something electronic, there are oftentimes a bunch of different options and features to compare. This is why websites such as cnet.com and ConsumerReports.org are so valuable. They offer a wide range of objective advice (both good and bad) about a ton of products, so you don’t have to guess about which camera or smartphone to buy your spouse for Christmas.
Next, if you are going to shop online, you better start early! I say this because the closer we get to December 25th, the longer the shipping will take due to everyone else trying to order things online. I know from first-hand experience—it is no fun sitting there, staring out your window, hoping that your gift arrives by December 24th. So start early!
With that, here are your Quick and Dirty Tips for optimal holiday shopping:
For electronic gifts, do your research ahead of time on ConsumerReports.org and cnet.com.
Download the Amazon Price Check app for your smartphone.
Share the cost of Amazon Prime, and free shipping, among 4 friends.
Before you venture out into the madness, be sure to call and reserve your item ahead of time.
Allow at least 10 days for something you purchased online to ship to its destination.
If you have any questions about a specific gadget or electronic item you want to gift, I’ll be hosting an online meet-up courtesy of Shindig! I will be answering your questions LIVE on December 13th at 9pm EST. Click here for info and to RSVP today! I look forward to meeting you.
Well, that’s it for today! Be sure to check out all my earlier episodes at techtalker.quickanddirtytips.com. And if you have further questions about this podcast or want to make a suggestion for a future episode, post your comments on the Tech Talker Facebook page.
Until next time, I’m the Tech Talker, keeping technology simple!
Amazon.com and Man Using Phone images from Shutterstock