The most recognizable choice is the online auction, specifically eBay. I think everyone knows that if you want to buy something and buy it cheaper than anywhere else, eBay is the place to go. The strengths of eBay are the breadth of selection and the chance to make a really good deal that you can brag about to your friends and coworkers. The weaknesses of eBay are the scams. There have been quite a few scams perpetrated throughout the history of eBay by buyers and sellers. Unfortunately, eBay is also getting a growing reputation as a place to sell counterfeit goods. There are some safeguards against these practices, though. The most prominent and important is the feedback rating. Next to everybody’s ID is a number that tells you how many transactions that person has had on eBay. Click on that number and you get more detail about what type of interaction that person has with others on eBay. If you want to deal only with vendors who have had thousands of transactions where all of them are positive, you can control that. It doesn’t save you from being scammed but it does increase your chances that you won’t be. Another help is the reviews and guide page. The guides which are written by fellow eBayers can sometimes provide useful info about shopping on eBay, such as how to tell an authentic Coach bag or purse from a fake. The reviews tend to give you detailed feedback about the actual item, as in whether it’s actually a well-made or designed item or not. As always buyer beware, but you are not alone. There are other more specialized auctions that you can use such as Bidz, and Liquidation.com but I’ll save those for another article.
Another route you can take is using a shopping search engine. These are search engines the function in the same way that Google’s or Yahoo’s search engine does but they specialize in new merchandise from established vendors, not individuals. The improvement here over using an online auction is that there is a lower chance of buying a counterfeit item given that you are dealing with established companies who are more dependent on their reputations than an individual might be. The two shopping search engines that I recommend the most are Froogle and Shopzilla. These two are highly informative, have great selections, and are easy to use. If I’m buying a Christmas gift, for example, and don’t want to take the chance on an item being counterfeit or in bad condition then I’m going to want to head to Froogle and Shopzilla and do a search ordering my results by lowest price first. Some notable retailers that operate function similar to shopping search are Amazon, Smartbargains and Overstock. These are also worth checking out. If I’m just trying to get some idea of the lowest price that I would have to pay for something, I’ll probably just go to Froogle and Shopzilla. If I’m budget-conscious and absolutely have to have a particular item, then I may check out all of them because every once in a while, each one of the sites will have a substantial discount on a specific brand or item.
The most intriguing option is the clearance or warehouse sale. The obvious route to a clearing sale is to go to a retailer’s website, click on the “clearance” button and browse what they have. This can vary for effectiveness. Sometimes the selection is good, sometimes it’s garbage, but it worth checking out for sites that you visit repeatedly. You should also check the sites that you frequent for coupons. A lot of retailers seem to think that a 10% off discount is something to get excited over (yawn). However, sometimes that the only discount available anywhere and on something like a Chloe Paddington bag or a top of the line Louis Vuitton bag, it can make a substantial difference. Another route to a clearance sale is search for information online for good offline deals. There are various websites online that regularly post when a warehouse sale is going to occur. A warehouse sale typically is when a warehouse closes resulting in merchandise to be liquidated. This can be the source of the once-in-a-lifetime dream discounts for quality brands that make you feel like Christmas has arrived.