Friday, September 3, 2010

Comparing Prices Between Brick and Mortar and Online Stores

If you are a frequent online shopper you know you are saving money. The prices online are almost always better than in brick and mortar stores. That's due to the cost of storing and shipping items to and from the stores. It also has to do with the cost of stocking inventory, paying rent, employees, building maintenance and so on... in short, overhead tacks on dollars to the price you pay in the store.

Every now and then you will find a bargain that is better than the one you find online. However, the savings is probably very small, even after shipping is factored in and it is most likely eaten away by time and transportation expenses to the store. Furthermore, that savings is probably on an item that is or is going to be out of stock or replaced by something else very soon. And, had you waited it would have been even cheaper online than in the store very soon.

But there are ways to compare prices in brick and mortar stores to online outlets. First, always add in the shipping price for the online store, and factor in your time and gas expenses to get to the brick and mortar store.

Secondly, take into account the quality of the item. A picture frame at a big retail outlet might cost less than a nicer one online. Many in-store items are made differently than the items you find in niche online stores. They lack durable metals, some parts are plastic or non-existent, and they don't last as long. So, your savings might be subtractive in this case.

Furthermore, selection is important. Most brick and mortar stores won't have hard-to-find items, which means you'll spend time and gas getting to the store in order to get a first hand look at merchandise only to find out they don't have what you want.

Taking an hour to browse the online stores, ones that offer easy returns, will prove to be valuable in this case. This is especially true for items like sculptures, trophies and crystal awards. There are few outlets that have a selection which matches an online store, simply due to the cost to carry so many items.

When searching for these types of products, always go to the online store first, bookmark it and then come back after calling the other stores in your area.

When you get price quotes be sure they include engraving and fees to ship the trophy to an engraver as well.

Online shopping is usually going to save money based on strict cost comparisons, but it will also improve your final results with better selections and fewer hassles.