Here’s some trivia for you: Amazon has more than 2 million sellers. That’s almost the entire population of Houston, Texas, all clambering to sell you things. Amazon has become the largest and most versatile marketplace in world history, and you’re almost guaranteed to find the item you’re seeking.
But when you’re dealing with 2 million faceless merchants, you have to be careful. You may think you’ve found a bargain, but then you’ll find the same item for significantly less. Some of these digital storefronts are misleading, as are their wares.
Related: Did you know that Amazon Prime members get over 20 perks? Click here to see a list of everything you get with a Prime membership.
Here are three little-known tactics that many shoppers find useful, which can both boost your savings and safeguard your satisfaction.
1. Price tracking tools
In brick-and-mortar stores, many shoppers don’t take the price tag at face value. We assume that there’s a deeper discount than the one advertised. We find an expensive outfit, we frown at the label, and we turn to the salesperson. “I shop here a lot,” we say. “Can I get another 10 percent off?”
This kind of haggling becomes even more important when you’re buying a big-ticket item like a refrigerator or car. You might like the price, but when the dealer doesn’t offer you free shipping or a complimentary warranty, you say you’re going to walk out. These are both common tactics among seasoned shoppers.
Of course, that's a little tougher to do when you're shopping online. You can't easily find a customer service rep. Fortunately, there are loads of price-tracking tools online, like CamelCamelCamel and Keepa.
CamelCamelCamel works in much the same way as Keepa. When you're shopping on Amazon, you can go to CamelCamelCamel to get a price history on that specific product. You may discover that the deep discount you think you're getting isn't a discount at all.
Or, better yet, set up an alert for something you want to buy. CamelCamelCamel and other price trackers will let you know when the price drops.
2. Spot fake reviews
Amazon reviews are tricky because it’s so easy to post a fake one. When you find deep discounts, these positive remarks can push you over the edge.
You think to yourself, “Wow, I can get that whole set of power tools for $40! And people are raving about them!” But when those power tools arrive, they’re a shoddy product that easily wears out. Your bargain has turned into a complete waste of time and money.
To sift through the reviews, these sites scan Amazon for words and phrases that fake customers often use. They'll also scan for bad grammar that may suggest that someone who speaks a different language is getting paid to write positive reviews. It isn’t an exact science, but you’ll probably get a more accurate picture of what actual customers think about a given product.
Better yet, these services are free and easy to use. With FakeSpot, for example, copy and paste an Amazon product onto its home page. The site will almost instantly let you know if it’s suspicious.
3. Automatically apply coupons
Like I said earlier, there always seems to be one more discount you can get when shopping. In the digital world, you can often find these discounts through a web extension like Honey.
Such extensions automatically search for coupons and discounts for products you're about to buy on Amazon and other shopping sites. You simply download the web extension, and an icon will appear in the upper right-hand corner of your screen. As you shop, you can click on this plugin and instantly find out the details on a given product.
Remember, you can also visit Amazon’s coupon site, collect the ones you want, and redeem them with a click. Your savings will be applied automatically to the final bill.
You can also use the coupons’ subscription service to keep the discounts flowing. The word "subscription" may sound suspect, but there is no additional fee. Amazon will help you keep track of your coupons on products you regularly buy. This is particularly convenient for cyclical household items like diapers, toothpaste and tortilla chips.
Just like old-fashioned coupons, Amazon offers a wide range of savings, and Prime members receive especially appetizing offers that others do not. Click here to get instant savings by using Amazon's coupons.
What other deals can you find online? Be sure to listen or download my podcasts, or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to the Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet or computer. From buying advice to digital life issues, click here for my free podcasts.