Twice in the past two weeks, I’ve gone to stores in order to purchase specific items, but was been shocked at how high the in store prices were. Both times I quickly pulled out my iPhone and checked the price of the item I needed to purchase at Amazon.ca, and then purchased it online while still in the store.
On my first shopping trip I was looking for toner for my Lexmark 250DN. At Staples, the toner I needed cost $150! Can you believe that! I only paid $250 for the printer, and now they want to charge me $150 for the toner. A quick check at Amazon.ca showed the exact same toner costing $105. I ended up saving $45 dollars. If I had just purchased it directly from Amazon in the first place, I would have saved another $5 or more in gas for the trip to the store.
The second “in store, online purchase” incident took place last night. Our son had asked us to purchase Assassin’s Creed 2 for the xBox 360 for him. At EB Games in our local shopping mall, they were asking $70 for the game. My iPhone informed me that Amazon.ca was selling the game for $57. The kicker was that they didn’t even have the game in stock, so I simply purchased it from Amazon.ca as we walked away from the store. I later learned that if you purchased the game from the EB Games online store you would only have to pay $60 (plus shipping… no shipping charges with the Amazon purchase).
New iPhone programs are making this type of comparison shopping easier and easier. RedLaser for example lets you scan bar codes and look up pricing (american pricing only for the time being). SnapTell is another program that allows you to take pictures of products and get Amazon.com pricing for them, along with product reviews. The product review can be very helpful, especially if you are not very familiar with the product you are trying to purchase.
There is real value in being able to go to a store and consult with someone about the purchase you are going to make. There is also real value in being able to take something home right a way, if you need it in a hurry. If I’m not in a hurry, and I feel that the price difference is too great, I for one am not afraid to walk away from a store and make my purchase online.