Here’s some trivia for you: Amazon, the largest and most versatile marketplace in world history, has more than 2 million sellers — almost as many people as live in Houston, the fourth largest city in America. And every one of those sellers is clambering to sell you things.
Whatever you’re looking for, you’re almost guaranteed to find it on Amazon, but when you’re dealing with 2 million faceless merchants, you have to be careful. You may think you’ve found a bargain — until you find the same item for significantly less. Some of these digital storefronts are misleading, as are their wares.
Related: Did you know that Amazon Prime members get over 20 perks? Click here to see a list of everything you get with a Prime membership.
Here are three little-known tactics that many shoppers find useful for boosting their savings and ensuring satisfaction.
1. Price-tracking tools
In brick-and-mortar stores, many shoppers don’t take the price tag at face value. You find an expensive outfit, frown at the label, turn to the salesperson and say, “I shop here a lot. Can I get another 10 percent off?”
This haggling becomes even more important when you’re buying a big-ticket item like a refrigerator or car. You might like the price, but when the dealer doesn’t offer free shipping or a complimentary warranty, you say you’re going to walk out.
These are common tactics among seasoned shoppers, but they’re a little tougher to do when shopping online, because you can't easily find a customer service rep. Fortunately, there are loads of price-tracking tools online, like CamelCamelCamel and Keepa.
CamelCamelCamel works in much the same way as Keepa. When you're shopping for a specific product on Amazon, you can go to CamelCamelCamel to get its price history. You may discover that the deep discount you think you're getting isn't a discount at all.
Better yet, you can set up an alert for something you want to buy, and CamelCamelCamel and other price-trackers will let you know when the price drops.
2. Spot fake reviews
Amazon reviews are tricky because it’s so easy to post a fake one. When you find deep discounts, these positive remarks can push you over the edge.
You think to yourself, “Wow, I can get that whole set of power tools for $40! And people are raving about them!” But when those power tools arrive, they’re a shoddy product, and your bargain has turned into a complete waste of time and money.
These sites scan Amazon for words and phrases that fake customers often use, as well as bad grammar that may suggest that someone who speaks a different language is getting paid to write positive reviews. It isn’t an exact science, but you’ll probably get a more accurate picture of what actual customers think about a given product.
Better yet, these services are free and easy to use. With FakeSpot, for example, when you copy and paste an Amazon product onto its homepage, it almost instantly let you know if the product’s reviews are suspicious.
3. Automatically apply coupons
Like I said, there's always seems to be one more discount you can get when shopping. In the digital world, you can often find these discounts through a web extension like Honey, which automatically searches for coupons and discounts for products you're about to buy on Amazon and other shopping sites. Simply download the web extension, and an icon will appear in the upper right-hand corner of your screen. As you shop, you can click on this plug-in and instantly find out the details on a given product.
You can also visit Amazon’s coupon site, collect the ones you want and redeem them with a click. Your savings will be applied automatically to the bill.
You can also use the coupons’ subscription service to keep the discounts flowing. The word "subscription" may sound suspect, but there is no additional fee. Amazon will help you keep track of coupons on products you regularly buy. This is particularly convenient for cyclical household items like diapers, toothpaste and tortilla chips.
Just like old-fashioned coupons, Amazon offers a wide range of savings, and Prime members receive especially appetizing offers that others do not. Click here to get instant savings by using Amazon's coupons.
What other deals can you find online? Be sure to listen to or download my podcasts, or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to the Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet or computer. From buying advice to digital life issues, click here for my free podcasts.
Learn about all the latest technology on the Kim Komando Show, the nation's largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today's digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com.