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For most of us, online shopping has quickly become the go-to way to find the best deals on everything from makeup to clothes to appliances and jewellery. It’s hard to imagine anything more convenient than logging on to your favorite online retailer and finding the same products you would purchase at a brick-and-mortar store for a fraction of the price. But believe it or not, shopping online is getting even easier thanks to price comparison apps.
For many Americans, online shopping has been synonymous with a few big retail companies. However, as the convenience of Internet shopping allows smaller, more artisanal producers to expand their markets, e-commerce is helping people find better and better deals on high-quality products. The only problem is that with more and more outlets moving to online sales every year, finding the best deal can mean spending hours scrolling through dozens of different websites.
With online price comparison tools the search is a lot easier. Instead of having to open up dozens of tabs and compare site-to-site, price comparison websites and apps do all the work for you by aggregating product information and pricing data from thousands of different online retailers and making it easily searchable. If you want to know where to find the best price on a new leather tote, for example, all you need to do is select or enter the search terms and scroll through the listings to see what price it is going for at different retail outlets. Once you select which retailer you want to purchase from, you can buy it directly from that retailer’s website.
Price comparison apps obviously make it easier than ever to find the best prices for products, but they can also help you become a smarter shopper in other ways. Apps like Yroo offer price history charts that let you see the average price for any given product over time, and give you an insight into how the current price compares. If there is a particular product you are interested in following, the app allows you to “favorite” it and receive an alert as soon as it goes on sale.
As they become more popular, shoppers are finding new ways of using price comparison apps. For example, while online retail is often seen as a threat to traditional shops, many consumers see value in both. When shopping for clothing, for example, a customer might visit a physical store to try on a new jacket or pair of jeans to check the size, but purchase them from the retailer’s online store if there is a lower price available online. Conversely, shoppers might find an exceptional sale through a price comparison app, then visit the physical store to purchase the product in person.
Online shopping is big business: online retail will account for an estimated $653 billion worldwide this year, and that is driven in large part by shoppers who have been convinced that e-commerce is simply the easiest way to find the best prices on the products they want. With so many excellent tools available to help shoppers navigate online retailers, it isn’t hard to see why.
Ryan Yarbrough is a small business consultant, speaker, and the manager at Davis Financial Services, a small business consulting firm.