Shopping a “final sale” section? 5 tips before you buy.
Dec. 06, 2023
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“Extra 40% off!” If you’re like me, you love getting these emails from your favorite brands. And if you’re like me, you’re inevitably disappointed when you start browsing the sale section and realize everything is marked “final sale.” Do you take a risk and buy something that might not work out? Or do you skip the sale altogether?
“Final sale” means no returns or exchanges. Retailers use the tactic to get rid of excess inventory or last season’s stock. And retail experts say final sales may become more common as retailers deal with swollen inventories caused by supply chain issues and consumers seeking different kinds of merchandise.
“Final sales can be a way to snag some of the deepest bargains out there,” says Kristin McGrath, a shopping expert at coupon site RetailMeNot. “You’ll often find them on super-out-of-season merchandise — think those bathing suits and patio furniture that are still not sold by October. But the rub is that you generally can’t return this stuff. Final sale means literally final.”
Not accepting returns is a cost-saver for retailers. Processing and restocking product returns is expensive for brands, and some returned inventory ends up getting thrown away. Last year, more than $760 billion in merchandise, or 16.6 percent of all US retail sales, was expected to be returned by shoppers, the National Retail Federation estimated. That’s about 6 percent higher than in 2020.
“It’s not cost-effective to the retailer to slash prices so low but then also accept the costs of taking returns, especially on items so out of season they won’t be able to sell them to anyone else,” McGrath says.
For shoppers, final sales are a gamble. Deep discounts are attractive, but you’re taking a chance if the clothing doesn’t fit or the furniture doesn’t look quite right. However, if the price is low enough, it might be worth the risk. Shopping experts offered a few tips for shopping final sales without getting burned — and ideas for what to do if you end up with an unwanted or unusable item.
How to shop a final sale
Always read the fine print when shopping sales, says Trae Bodge, a shopping expert based in Montclair, New Jersey, who has mixed feelings about final sales and shops them sparingly. Items are typically marked “final sale” on product pages or in your shopping cart. In stores, signs often note final sales. When in doubt, double-check with the retailer, she says. Here are five questions to ask yourself:
1. Why do you want to buy something?
“Cheap is never a reason to buy anything,” says Vanessa Valiente, a personal stylist and fashion blogger in San Diego. Before you buy anything, especially when it’s final-sale, think about whether it’s something you really need or want. Consider, too, that it’s often wasteful and potentially harmful to the environment to buy things you potentially can’t use.
Avoid shopping when you’re overemotional, says Erica Seppala, a shopping and retail expert at business product comparison site Merchant Maverick. Retail therapy, whether you’re happy or stressed, often leads to impulse buying and spending more. “I recommend shopping when you’re feeling kind of neutral and levelheaded to make smart purchasing decisions,” she says.
2. Are you familiar with the retailer or brand?
Stick with brands that you know well. If you own several items from a clothing brand and are confident about your size, ordering something in another color on final sale is a great way to get a deal, Bodge says.
Use final sales, too, for items that you’ve seen in person at a store. Valiente says she often tries on clothing in stores, takes pictures of herself wearing items, and orders them online once they go on sale since she knows what size to buy.
3. Have you done your research?
For clothing, measure yourself and compare it to size charts. For other items, like home decor, toys, or pet items, always read all product details, including size, dimensions, materials, and cleaning directions. Also, read reviews. Other customers will note if the color is off or the sizing runs big or small. McGrath suggests looking for reviews with photos, which show how clothing looks on a non-professional model’s body or how a throw pillow looks in different lighting.
Look up reviews from bloggers or YouTube videos about the product to gather as much information as possible, Bodge says. “That extra research can be helpful in ensuring that you’re making the right choice, rather than taking a risk with a final sale.”
4. Did you ask a friend?
Not sure whether to buy something on final sale? “Enlist a shopping partner,” Seppala says. Send links to products or photos of yourself trying something on in a dressing room to a friend, sibling, or spouse to get their opinion. They might remind you that you have three other black dresses similar to that one, or that you don’t need another set of dishes. “Having someone that can hold you accountable and help you stay levelheaded,” will help you avoid impulse buys, she says.
5. Are you getting the absolute lowest price?
Just because something is on final sale doesn’t mean it’s the lowest possible price, Bodge says. Using coupon sites, like CouponCabin or RetailMeNot, or cash-back apps, like Rakuten or Ibotta, could save you even more. “If you see that there’s something final-sale that you definitely want to get, take a moment to go to a coupon site to see if there’s a coupon or cash-back offer that can be applied on top of that final sale,” she says.
Seppala suggests also asking retailers about student or military discounts. And sign up for a brand or retailer’s reward program, which might let you earn points for discounts on future purchases.
What to do with products you get stuck with
Shopping final sales involves taking a risk, so think about whether you’re willing to deal with the hassle of getting things you can’t use. “Ask yourself honestly if the price is low enough that you won’t be upset if the item isn’t perfect,” McGrath says. If you do get stuck with unwanted items, there are some things you can do.
First, regift the items to others in your life who might like them for birthdays or holidays. But be thoughtful about it, Seppala urges — don’t just wrap it up, slap a name tag on it, and give just to give. Make sure it’s truly something the recipient would appreciate. Otherwise, they’ll be stuck with something they don’t want, and the cycle continues.
Or, resell purchases on sites like Facebook Marketplace, Poshmark, Mercari, and The RealReal, or at local consignment shops. Keep in mind that there are usually fees associated with reselling, and it can be time-consuming.
Donating items in good condition to local homeless shelters, domestic violence organizations, or other charities is another option. And some retailers, like Madewell, Target, and Staples, offer discounts to consumers who donate items to be recycled.
Sometimes making small alterations will make a final-sale purchase work for you. For instance, have a jacket tailored or paint a bookshelf that’s not the right color, McGrath says.
As a last resort, contact a retailer about taking the item back. Final sale usually means final sale, but that doesn’t mean you can’t ask. Just be courteous and apologetic. Exceptions may sometimes be made for damaged items, those with misleading product descriptions, or when the customer genuinely didn’t know something was final-sale. In these cases, retailers might be more willing to offer store credit or merchandise exchange, rather than a full refund.
“It’s worth a shot,” Bodge says. “Some retailers have very hard and fast policies about that. But it’s obviously important to retailers to retain the consumer, instead of making them so upset that they never come back.”
Erica Sweeney is a business and health journalist whose work has appeared in the Washington Post, Men’s Health, Good Housekeeping, Business Insider, and more.
Customers are always on the lookout for deals. And price comparison websites, which compare product prices, shipping prices, and coupon codes from multiple realtors, are online destinations that help them make informed decisions.
Comparison sites and apps don’t just benefit customers, they also allow ecommerce merchants to attract new visitors. Comparison shoppers are already interested in buying, making them an ideal audience for promoting sales and discounts.
Whether you’re checking a product deal on Amazon Prime Day or simply browsing for bargains, here are the 25 best sites to compare prices on right now.
Plus, advice for merchants who want to list their products on selling sites and marketplaces.
💁🏽♂️ What’s in this post? This list is split into three sections: the best price comparison sites for US (and global) users; price comparison sites for users outside the US, and the best websites and apps for Shopify merchants who want to add price comparison features to their stores.
25 best price comparison websites and apps
Best US price comparison websites and apps
1. Google Shopping
Google Shopping is one of the largest and best-known price comparison sites. Products submitted to Google Shopping also appear in standard Google search results and integrate with Google Ads, the pay-per-click platform.
For merchants, Google has a beta benchmarking tool for product prices on Shopping ads. This tool displays three metrics for comparing prices against the competition:
- Average product price: the average price of a product when your ad was shown or when your ad was competitive in an auction
- Benchmark product price: the average click-weighted price for a product across all businesses that advertise that product with Shopping ads
- Benchmark product price difference: the percentage difference between your product’s average product price and the benchmark product price
Since 1996, customers looking for deals have headed to Shopzilla. This comparison site lists millions of products, so the selection is vast and competition can be tough.
Merchants wanting to use Shopzilla to generate extra sales should know that it’s a Connexity company. That means you can also access its entire advertising network to find new customers and channels.
Become may have a bare-bones site design, but its large product library allows shoppers to effectively compare prices, read and write product reviews, and search for the best possible online shopping deals and lowest prices.
In addition to showing product and price comparisons, Bizrate allows customers to set price alerts for products they’re interested in. Bizrate is also a Connexity company, so merchants get access to performance marketing features for the open web.
Camelcamelcamel tracks Amazon product price history over time, so shoppers can see historic pricing and trends. It’s also got a browser extension with the option to add email or X alerts for price drops. Consumers can browse by category or conduct a search for specific products to compare prices.
Camelcamelcamel offers versions of its price comparison tool for the US, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, and the UK.
Available in more than 30 countries and with millions of monthly users, ShopMania is a price comparison tool that runs on a pay-per-click model. Consumers browse the categories or conduct a search on the website and you pay each time someone clicks on your product. ShopMania also works with Facebook selling.
To advertise your products on ShopMania, your business must:
- Be a fully functional ecommerce store
- Be legally registered and operating
- Have easy-to-find contact details
- Use the official language and currency of the country where you operate
BuyVia is accessible via web browser or mobile app. Like most price comparison tools on this list, BuyVia allows online shoppers to browse products or conduct a search for something in particular and gives them the option to scan bar codes and set alerts for price drops. In addition to price comparison, BuyVia has coupons and promo codes to help shoppers get the best price.
ShopSavvy is a price comparison app designed for smartphones. Shoppers can either search a keyword or UPC code or scan bar codes. ShopSavvy will show product prices for the same or similar items online or at local retailers. It can also tell shoppers which stores have the most units in stock, and features a price match tool to help them get the best deal without seeking out the item elsewhere.
9. Yahoo! Shopping
Yahoo! Shopping’s price tracker is a price alert tool for online shoppers. Consumers create a wishlist with products they want to track price history for and Yahoo! will monitor price changes over time. Yahoo! Shopping also features deals for various products and discounts.
Germany-based price comparison tool Pricepirates also offers versions for the US, Austria, Switzerland, and the UK. Consumers can scan top sellers and products by category or enter a specific search query for the item they’re interested in. Results are typically from eBay or Amazon. Pricepirates also has mobile apps for iOS and Android.
While not a traditional comparison site, Honey is a free browser extension from PayPal that searches for discounts and coupon codes associated with your checkout basket. The app also has a favorites list feature that tracks products and notifies you when prices are low. Honey says its users save an average of $126 per year.
Price.com is available as a desktop website and a Chrome extension. It finds discounts and coupon codes for more than 50,000 popular stores, including Chewy, Target, and Walmart. When browsing ecommerce stores, the Price.com extension will compare product prices and notify users if a lower price is available elsewhere.
Best price comparison websites for global shoppers
PriceRunner’s free-to-use price comparison engine allows shoppers to compare prices from retailers all over the UK. Pricerunner is available for use in the UK, Sweden, Denmark, and Norway.
Skinflint is a price comparison website that’s popular with dropshippers based in the UK and EU. With Skinflint, shoppers and retailers can search for and compare products from wholesale retailers across Europe.
Shopbot allows shoppers to search and compare products from multiple retailers. Shopbot also has an extensive blog that includes buyers guides, product reviews, and advice on what to look for when purchasing specific products.
Shopbot is available for shoppers in Canada, New Zealand, and Australia.
PriceBat is a Canadian site for comparing product prices with a focus on computer accessories and other electronics. For retailers in need of office supplies, PriceBat finds the best deals on printers, ink cartridges, and laptops.
Getprice lists and compares products from Australian retailers, with city-specific filters for Australian retailers who want to save on shipping times by purchasing locally. Getprice boasts more than 3.5 million products from over 1,200 retailers across Australia.
PriceSpy’s price comparison platform boasts a wide variety of products from retailers all over the UK. PriceSpy’s comprehensive search allows you to filter for specific brands and categories. Shoppers can even view the pricing history for some products, allowing them to see if the current price is lower or higher than it was previously.
Best price comparison websites and apps for Shopify merchants
For merchants who want to display their products on price comparison websites, the Shopify App Store contains several relevant Shopify apps.
There are two main types of price comparison apps for store builders: those that connect to your store and list your products on an external site or marketplace, and those that integrate product comparison features into your website.
Dynamic Pricing Optimization by Prisync is a back-end tool that lets Shopify store owners spy on competitor pricing. Adjust your own pricing strategy accordingly or use the app’s dynamic pricing feature to automatically change yours based on the competitive landscape. You can also see stock availability, set email notifications, and export data in Excel.
Similar to Prisync, PriceMole tracks competitor pricing to inform your strategy. It also tracks stock levels, has dynamic pricing, and includes email alerts.
3. MyShopping Datafeed
MyShopping Datafeed is a comparison app available to Australia-based Shopify stores. The app is free and lists your products alongside more than 11 million others. Stores of all sizes, even merchants with more than 1,000 products, can use MyShopping.
4. Price Comparison and Affiliate by Arrow
The Price Comparison and Affiliate app by Arrow pulls in competitor pricing and displays it on your Shopify site, letting you promote how low your prices are and how expensive the items are elsewhere. Though you don’t want users to click away from your site, those click-throughs can turn into earned affiliate sales—so it’s not a complete loss.
5. Product Compare
Product Compare lets merchants pitch their own products against each other. Product Compare makes these lists shareable, so shoppers can send them to friends and family for their opinions. It also aids in product discovery, suggesting similar products to compare.
6. Compare Products by Omega
The Compare Products by Omega app is (not surprisingly) similar to Product Compare, in that it helps customers put products side by side and choose which is best for them. Each product page has a detailed chart depicting price, ratings, stock level, and variants.
Lengow incorporates social media selling, affiliate platforms, and ad retargeting. The tool comes with analytics reporting so you can optimize product listings to increase sales.
Getting products listed on price comparison websites
To be listed on a comparison site, most platforms require retailers to submit a formatted product feed. Product information must meet a defined specification and should be updated frequently. Price comparison platforms use scripts to parse and ingest the data from the feed, displaying products on results pages as appropriate.
Shopify merchants have access to several apps that make submitting product feeds to comparison sites easier (and, in some cases, automatic). Regardless of how a feed is created, it’s worth taking time to craft product descriptions and check pricing data before promoting your goods across the internet.
Grow your business with price comparison sites
If your products are listed for competitive prices, price comparison websites are an effective way to get in front of interested customers.
Whether you’re comparing your products or putting them up against the competition, comparison apps and features can be a great way to ease buyer hesitation and build confidence for shoppers.
Ready to create your first business? Start your free trial of Shopify—no credit card required.Illustration by George Wylesol
Price comparison FAQ
How do price comparison sites work?
For consumers, price comparison sites work like a search engine, sourcing current product information and displaying offers from multiple retailers to show how they stack up against one another.
Some price comparison websites include features that allow users to track product prices over time, find coupon codes, or get notified about sale events.
For merchants, comparison sites have their own rules for integrating product feeds. You may need to pay a fee and submit the required content (product photos, URL, price, description, etc.) to have your products listed. Your products will then appear for relevant searches against comparable products ranked by price.
Comparison platforms can help you develop your pricing strategy. You don’t want to price yourself out of consideration, but you need to make sure you charge enough to turn a profit.
What’s the best price comparison site?
Comparison websites like Google Shopping and Shopzilla let customers compare a vast number of products by price, while comparison apps like Honey search for discounts associated with your checkout basket.
For merchants, the best price comparison site depends on your wider ecommerce strategy. Some comparison apps allow customers to compare products within your website, while others display your products against competitors. Consider where your customers go to compare prices and the product features they're more interested in.
Are there websites that compare prices?
- Google Shopping
- Yahoo! Shopping
What are some things to consider when comparing prices?
When comparing prices of products, make sure to take into account where the product is being shipped from, as well as the brand, material, and quality of the product.
Shopping a “final sale” section? 5 tips before you buy.
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