Essay | Online Shopping Tips From A Guy Who Hates Shopping

A guy who hates shopping gives shopping tips and tricks for finding gifts and snagging the lowest prices with the least amount of effort and time. Nuf said!

Gotta get a gift for that special someone and/or your own special self?  Well I have a few tips that may help get you through the experience with the least amount of pain and the biggest bang for your buck to boot.

First, a couple of true confessions–I don’t like to shop and I don’t like going to stores. Now while some of you could view these facts as being deleterious to someone giving shopping advice, I beg to differ.

Since I indeed don’t like to shop, I find ways to get it done in the most efficient manner possible. So if you’re someone who doesn’t like to waste time either–I’m your man. Or at least I got your method.

And while I hate to shop, I’m not a lazy shopper. I want to give good gifts and see those faces light up and I want to snag the best price for that gifting glory. And since I don’t like physical stores, that just means I’ve had to more finely develop my online shopping skills.

If you enjoy the store experience–the hub-bub, crowds, noise, shoving, pushing, body blows, sticky-icky carts, more noise, terrible traffic, parking demolition derbies, guzzling gas jams, smog inhalation and then even more noise–then my online methodology ain’t for you.

I propose the better way to shop is by lounging in a bed or sofa, laptop on snack tray or belly, ample wine and/or beer, fine tunes, comfort treats, crackling fire, and no annoying noise.

General Gift Searching And Comparing

Shopping - Bizrate

Enough deep philosophy, let’s get down to it. Say you don’t have a specific idea about what gift to get someone. I would go to Bizrate where I think the best general product searching and idea generating can be had. Bizrate has the best product photos combined with a good user-friendly and intuitive site layout.

On the home page, go to the upper left side and click at the “Shop By Department” area. Then down to more specific categories in that department and peruse the pretty pictures for ideas.

Shopping - Bizrate.comI find the “What’s Hot” link atop the “Departments” list to be especially helpful if I’m not that knowledgeable in certain product areas–which can often mean women’s stuff. For example, I click “What’s Hot” and venture to “Women” to “Ugg Boots” to “Peep-Toe Booties” (Peep-toe booties are the hottest trend. Pair them with a skirt, leggings or your favorite jeans.)  Duh, I didn’t even know peep-toe booties existed, let alone think of them as a possible gift. Such astounding gift knowledge at your fingertips!

Bizrate’s motto is “search, compare, conquer”. I agree they are good with the “search and compare” aspect and I agree with the following hype they offer…

Search: Find virtually every product, store, brand, and deal on the web. Shop millions of products including apparel, shoes, home décor, and accessories, to electronics, appliances, computers, and games, from thousands of stores at the click of a mouse.

Compare: Easily compare products and store information. Bizrate lets you swiftly organize your results so you’ll find and see only the products that matter to you. And as the industry leader in online store ratings and reviews, bizrate collects over 25,000 customer reviews each day, and shares it so customers know for sure whether a store can be trusted. Find all the tools and answers you need to help you decide which and where to buy.”

All the above is fine, but I don’t recommend Bizrate for the “conquer” part of their motto. “Conquer” referring to the money aspect–the best pricing, coupons, rebates. I have a few other sites for that part. First let me mention the best place for…

Electronic Gift Searching And Comparing
Shopping - CNet Shopper
Hands down, the hot spot for all things electronic is, aka CNET Shopper I’ve found they are excellent for electronics searching and comparing and I especially find their “CNET Editor Reviews & Ratings” to be superb.

Shopping - CNet Reviews

Except for the price claims, I  agree with their hype…

“ has an extensive technology catalog, thousands of professional product reviews, user opinions, and the best prices for computers and consumer electronics. A trusted merchant certification program combined with some of the best deals and bargains on the internet, has everything you need to make your technology purchases.”


Getting the Best Price

Once you have figured out exactly what gift you wish to purchase, then I suggest opening up three different browsing windows or tabs, and get these sites in each one…PriceGrabber – bottomdollar – Shopzilla.

Then copy the exact description and model number (i.e. Canon FS200 Flash Memory Digital Camcorder – Silver) for the product you chose at Bizrate or, and paste it in the “search box” of all three sites. Don’t go browsing or clicking on categories at these sites–just paste into the box.

Now compare the search results in all three sites. Sometimes the stores and prices found in the results will be similar, sometimes they won’t. For the Canon Camcorder example–Shopzilla came up with 24 stores and a price range of $259 to $449; PriceGrabber gives 6 stores and $255 to $329; bottomdollar has 5 stores and $255 to $330. In this instance, the lowest prices were in a close range at all three sites.

But Shopzilla gave us a lot more choices for possible stores which may come in handy when some products are hard to find or going out of stock. Also, once you type in your zip code to find out the shipping costs, and possible tax charges for your particular state, the wider choice can lead you to the lowest price.


A nice feature I’d like to point out at PriceGrabber is their “Price Alert”. On the home page is a video you can view that quickly explains it.

Beating Down The Best Price With Coupon Codes

Once you’ve found the best price at the best store, then it’s time to see if we can cut it down some more with “coupon codes”. While the sites mentioned above have some “coupon codes” and “cash back” deals, I’ve found the best results can be had by going with these specialty sites: CurrentCodes – FatWallet – Tjoos –

Although I lean a little more toward FatWallet, I always check all four before clicking on my shopping cart and making the final purchase. Here’s what CurrentCodes has to say about the codes and themselves…

“Hundreds of well-known online stores like Barnes and Noble, Staples, and have a place within their shopping cart for a “coupon code” that gives a percent or dollar amount off your purchase. If you don’t know the code, you can’t take advantage of the discount. You can find these secret discount codes and coupon codes listed on many sites across the internet but the problem with these sites is that they’re usually personal homepages and they don’t maintain their lists! has a full-time staff of trained individuals whose only job is to find new coupon codes and discount codes and verify the accuracy of the existing database. We don’t flood you with ads and we don’t throw deals in your face. No hype, just current codes. Our mission is to have absolutely the best coupon code database on the Internet.”

I’ve slashed as much as 20% off with these codes and often get 5% to 10% off.

Well, that’s all the shopping wisdom I got. Happy hunting and gathering.

written by los angeles photographer & writer Gregory Mancuso

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