Changing Prices on Amazon.com Driving You Crazy? 3 Ways to Regain Your Sanity.

by Nindo Mom on June 16, 2011

Today’s Phenomenon: The Never-ending Roller Coaster of Retail Pricing

Have you ever noticed that the prices at your favorite retailer are in a constant state of flux? This is true regardless of whether you’re  talking about a big-box, general merchandise store like Wal-mart or Target, a grocery store like Giant Food or Safeway, or a specialty store like Borders or Home Depot. You can go in one day and find a great price on an item you’ve been shopping for–and *POOF* it’s gone the next day. And it’s not just a matter of the item going off sale: retail stores are always changing their prices–even prices for items not featured by the store as being “on sale” are constantly in flux. The pricing on Amazon.com follows this pattern of constant change, as well.

How to Find the Best Deal on Amazon.com

1. Say “YES” to Email from Amazon

In the settings category of your Amazon.com, go to the section for email notifications from Amazon.com and make sure you’ve OPTED IN to receiving Amazon marketing emails. Then, make sure you’re signed up to receive daily notification of  Amazon Gold Box Deals. This will enable you to conveniently learn about Amazon’s featured Gold Box Deal item each day–just by checking your email in-box.

2. Gold Box Deals are Your Friend–and As Such, Should be Visited Frequently

Check Amazon Gold Box Deals page each morning. Because even if you’re subscribed to receive daily notification of Amazon’s featured deal, you have to check the limited-time  Gold Box Deals directly on Amazon’s Website. (And from my experience, the hourly deals tend to offer much better savings than the featured deal.)

I have found some truly amazing deals on a variety of items in Amazon’s hourly Gold Box Deals section–which has saved me quite a bit on gifts, as well as consumable items I normally buy.

Keep in mind that for Amazon’s Gold Box Deals with a time limit, you must complete your purchase–not merely place the item in your cart–to get the Deal price. And most of these items are offered in limited supply–which means that you shouldn’t delay making your purchase if you know the item is something you want. (Extremely popular items have been known to sell out in just a couple of minutes–at least, at the special Deal price.)

3. A Little-Known–and HIGHLY VALUABLE Resource: CamelCamelCamel.com

This website may have a funny name, but it’s a super-easy way to sign up for instant emails when the Amazon item of your choice hits the price point of your choosing.  I use this service when I have a specific amount in mind that I’m willing to pay for an item–and I happen to not be in a hurry to get it.

It’s true that Amazon’s price for an item may never drop to the point you have in mind. But with CamelCamelCamel.com, you can easily set up MULTIPLE price points for an item at which you’d like to be notified. That way, you have the option to purchase the item at a slightly higher price than you initially intended if you decide to do so.

Camelcamelcamel.com is free to use. (They get their money from Amazon, in the form of a commission, if you decide to click through one of their Amazon product links and make a purchase.) This site is an awesome resource that allows you to research Amazon’s price history for any item in their inventory–so you’ll know for sure how good Amazon’s current price really is.

There are occasionally instances when Amazon’s Gold Box price for an item IS ACTUALLY HIGHER than a “regular” price in past months: with CamelCamelCamel, you can check out a product’s price history to make sure the Gold Box price is actually the best deal to be had. (If Amazon has offered the product at a lower price within the last 12 months or so, I might decide to hold off on my purchase to see if the price drops down to that level again–but it all depends on my timetable for needing the product.)

When Amazon.com Is Not Cheapest . . .

For the products that I buy, Amazon.com is cheaper on most things. However, there are certain items–and categories of items–that Amazon seems to have higher prices for than I can find at my local Target, Wal-mart, Staples, etc.

Items that may be more expensive on Amazon than at local retail stores:

  • certain office products
  • consumable paper products such as toilet paper and paper towels
  • some food and beverage products
  • items sold by third-party sellers, regardless of whether they’re fulfilled by Amazon or shipped directly to consumer from the seller

For many consumers, it may still be worth purchasing items from Amazon that are priced higher than local stores simply because of the convenience of shopping online.   This is especially true for individuals who have transportation issues–or just a lack of time.

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