It happens to all of us. The time comes when we need to upgrade one of our household products, such as a vacuum cleaner or a blender, but we don’t know where to begin to compare products.

How can you tell which product is better or cheaper among the abundance of options out there online? The ugly truth is, comparing products can be an unnecessary hassle when you don’t even know where to begin.

As a self-confessed online shopaholic, here are some useful tips I learned along the way. Use this advice the next time you’re in the market for a new item.

1. Know Your Wants & Needs

When looking to buy a TV, for example, having a foundation as to what you’re looking for will give you a good head-start. Going in blind and looking at every model will only exhaust you. You’ll actually end up more confused than when you started. Shopping should be a fun experience.

Let’s say you’re more inclined to buy a 50 inch TV that is under $2,000. Well, you’re already on the right path by narrowing down what you need to sift through and compare before you make a decision. It’s not necessary to know exactly what you need, but having an idea will go a long way. This will make your shopping experience much easier and less stressful.

2. One Piece of Criteria is Never Enough

Just because a product is more expensive, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s superior. It’s helpful to dig a little deeper and research the product that you have your eye on. Listen to what Alon Gamzu, CEO of Roundforest and founder of Comparaboo, has to say:

“People can get hung up on one feature or the aesthetics of a product. The key is to analyze as much of the information as possible in order to make an informed decision. Comparing a variety of products or using algorithmic tools which can balance all the criteria make for much better indicators of quality.”

Relying on price alone is not recommended. Sometimes a single factor can increase the price of an item twofold.

A pricey microwave may have all the same basic functions as a modest one, but those silver dials are what make it $100 more. The important thing is to take everything into consideration and see the bigger picture — that way you’ll ultimately be happy with the product you choose.

3. Read the Reviews (With Caution)

If thousands of people already bought the items that you’re looking at, chances are some of them wrote reviews and gave their two-cents. Look for in-depth analysis and verified purchases, as those will give you the best idea of what the products have to offer.

Be careful though. You don’t want to get lost reading reviews, as too many will distort your opinions on the products you’re looking at and can leave you in a daze. We also need to be wary of faux reviews. A recent Harvard University study suggested that 15 to 30 percent of online reviews are fake. Some people write good reviews on their company’s products and bad ones on their rivals, while others simply like to troll the internet. Be alert.

4. Take Advantage of Technology

There are plenty of useful sites out there. Price comparison sites can help you find the lowest cost when you’ve decided on an item. Other sites can tell you if an item is in stock at various locations. This is perfect for when that new gaming system seems to be sold out everywhere.

The internet is a goldmine for helpful shopping tools, so be sure to utilize them where you can. Just beware of sites that require you to download software or ask for private details. When you use the available resources, the choice between products becomes much simpler.

5. Save a Bit More

Let’s say you’re deciding between two brands and price is the final obstacle. An internet search with terms “discount” or “coupon” may help you save on the cost of an item. A simple coupon code can net you 5 to 20 percent off. Many sites even offer discounts for first-time users after you’ve signed up. Lastly, there are also sites that search the web for the best deals and discounts daily, giving you another tool to save some money as you decide on a product.

Good Luck Out There!

Now that you have a bit more knowledge on product comparison, the time has come to put it to good use. Remember, these tips are just a taste of how you can be prepared when you go out shopping. Knowledge is power when finding the perfect product.

Do you have any additional tips? Share them with us in the comments!

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