Whether shopping online or in-store, we all want to get the best possible deal. From vetting fake Amazon reviews to price-comparing smartphone apps, here’s a list of our six favorite digital tools that can help you save:
1. Smart Product Trackers
Do you frequently find products that you like, only to quickly forget about them? Unless you employ a highly-organized system of list-making, bookmarking, and reminders to revisit stores (both in-person and online), it’s difficult to keep track any new and interesting products you discover—much less keep tabs on when they’re available at a discounted price.
Image credit: iTunes
Savelist is a web-based application that helps you to remember the products you want when shopping online, and their price-drop alerts aim to save you both money and time. To use it, follow these steps:
- Add the Chrome extension or download the app from Google Play or the App Store.
- When you find a product that you’d like to track, click the Savelist button in your web browser or tap Share and then Add to Savelist from your smartphone.
- Receive notifications once any of your products are discounted or restocked.
- At any time, log in to browse your lists online, with items always displayed with an updated price.
However, according to co-founder Nami Hashimoto, Savelist is the only smart shopping list application that can work in any online store, including some of your international favorites, thanks to their unique technology that allows Savelist to track product information directly from any online store without their intervention.
2. The Review Analyzer
Of course, you’re probably already aware that HighYa provides shoppers with thousands of product reviews in every category, from heath and beauty to technology and travel, along with smart shopping tips.
However, not all reviews websites have the same standards as HighYa—and some are home to flat-out fake reviews. We’ve shared tips on how to identify fraudulent reviews in 7 Ways to Spot Fake Reviews & Shop Smarter and Amazon Sues 1,100+ Fake Reviewers. But now, there’s a website that will help screen reviews for you.
Fakespot helps Amazon shoppers weed out spam reviews from the useful ones by generating a review score. Shoppers don’t even need to sign up, just copy and paste a product’s Amazon link into Fakespot to see its grade. You can also dig deeper, reading which reviews Fakespot thinks are inauthentic and which are real—helping you become a smarter shopper in the future.
3. The In-Person Product Finder
At the mall and still can’t find which store has the item you’re searching for? Cartogram combines live indoor maps with a powerful search engine, allowing you to search a shopping mall for specific items. If the item is in stock nearby, Cartogram will notify you of the correct store—even providing walking directions.
This app, available on Google Play, seems particularly useful for bargain hunters forced to make last-minute decisions of where to shop during Black Friday sales, or when hunting for next season’s hottest Christmas gifts.
4. The In-Person Price Comparison Tool
Price Matching has become a popular promise made by big-name stores, including Toys“R”Us, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, and hundreds of other—all of whom say they’ll match competitors’ prices.
While price matching sounds like a great way to score a deal, it still means plenty of legwork for the consumer, including searching for a better deal and understanding any restrictions in the fine print.
Instead of searching online or driving to another shopping mall to check, Scout offers shoppers an easy way to take advantage of price matching:
- The application uses your smartphone’s camera to identify a product.
- From there, Scout searches thousands of retail sites, matches the offers against the store price-match rules, and delivers the best offer to show the cashier.
5. Aggregated Coupon Tools
Coupons can help you save, but the process of finding, clipping, and using offers is often cumbersome—even online codes are apt to expire unnoticed, or sometimes not work at all.
Aggregated coupon tools do the work for you by scouring online sources for coupons based on your current domain and sometimes even the products and brands you are shopping. Digital coupon tools have the added benefit of automatically filtering results; that way, you’re not forced to manually sort through expired options.
Since couponing has started making a comeback, various coupon code browser add-ons have been released, all claiming to be the best online shopping tool. Our top picks include:
- Coupons at Checkout: Compatible with Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer, Coupons at Checkout lists available coupon codes next to a standard "Enter Coupon Code" box which appears when you’re about to checkout of any store.
- Honey: Available only on Chrome, Honey places a "Find Savings" button on the checkout screen of hundreds of merchant sites. Before checking out, just click "Find Savings" and Honey will search through all available coupons on the web to find the best possible combination of codes to net you maximum savings—which are then automatically applied to your cart.
- Walmart's Saving Spotter Chrome Extension: Expert-saver Jeff, of Jason Coupon King, clued us in that this Chrome extension will let you know if an item that you’re about to purchase is available for less at Walmart.
6. The Price-Adjustment Watchdog
Ever bite the bullet and pay full price for an item or product you love, only to see it go on sale after? Paribus is designed to help shoppers get money back after making a purchase:
To take advantage of Paribus, you do have to create a (free) account, then just go about your normal shopping habits. Paribus monitors your email for receipts, tracking any items that you’ve already purchased for fluctuation in price.
If an item does go on sale, Paribus goes about getting you the difference automatically. The service keeps 25 percent of your refund as a fee. Note that Paribus only supports purchases made with certain retailers—currently 18 big-name stores will work with the service to get you the best deal.
What about privacy? If you’re concerned with the idea of Paribus independently collecting information from your email account but still want to use the service, we suggest opening up a spare email just for shopping.
Don’t Forget To Secure Your Connection
With more mobile applications available to help you price compare and purchase on the go, it’s easy to forget that not every connection is secure.
According to Karen Mesoznik of SaferVPN, more and more people are falling victim to hackers over airport, hotel, and cafe Wi-Fi networks:
“Although these connections may be convenient, they are not secured, meaning your private activity and sensitive information is vulnerable. Hackers can see what you do on unencrypted sites (sites without https at the beginning of the URL address), as well as which encrypted sites you visit, and use this opportunity to install malicious software on your computer—putting you at great risk for credit card and online identity theft.”
Karen suggests adding a layer of security to your shopping by browsing with a Virtual Private Network (VPN). VPN apps allow you to direct your online traffic through a private, encrypted connection to keep all your personal data safe and sound—regardless of whether you’re shopping from your phone or at home.
Learn more about how to shop safely on the go in Wi-Fi Safety Tips For Smarter Travel.