Best Practices for Savvy Online Shopping: Homework First, Questions Second (2/6)

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If you missed Part 1 of this week’s 6 Part Series, click this link to read it.

Ask Questions AFTER You Do Your Homework

One problem that has resulted from consumer complacency is that companies are fighting with their competition on how to think for us and literally “dumb down” ad/product copy & instructions. “Copy” simply refers to all of the wording written for advertising, product descriptions, and other aspects of readable material. Companies have become so precise at manipulating our opinions, that we essentially salivate at the shaking of strategically placed bells (like Pavlov’s dog) even when there are no bells! Don’t give in to such external service. Be proactive and evaluate products based on practicality and functional application. If a product looks too big for your application, discover why it is so large. If it is now smaller in size than previous productions, ask yourself why. The point is: Do your homework. Don’t allow anyone else to think for you. Why would you not trust a sales associate who is telling you how their widget will improve your life? Whose interests does he ultimately represent?

If you’re in your thirties, then you’ll remember when ice cream was sold in half-gallons. Remember that? What happened there? Essentially, the big boys who produce ice cream got together and agreed to lower the standard packaging sizes. Notice that their pricing didn’t follow the shrinking container, did it? That basically allowed them to force the consumer into paying more for less quantity. If consumers would have voted with their dollars, the new size wouldn’t have lasted. (Not that anyone needed a half-gallon anyway.)

If you have done your “due diligence” and researched a product, then chances are that you will be more knowledgeable than any retail salesperson on the sales floor at the local department/big box store…and better prepared to deal with an online sales rep over one who accepts orders over the phone. The only exception would be one who is paid to know more specs than the public because it’s a big ticket or specialized item. Both terms are ways of saying “high-priced”.  If you do your homework successfully, talking with a sales rep should simply convince you that your decision was right about that particular product. Although price is important, budget considerations should never be the primary & sole deciding factor.

At this point, let’s not forget something very, very important. Don’t give unnecessary attention or over-analyze a product that doesn’t deserve so much review. I recall one experience years ago. At the time, I was driving a delivery truck all over Southern California for work. One morning, I stopped in to a popular fast-food restaurant to order breakfast. In looking at my options, I found myself asking for the nutritional info about the food-like substance of products I was potentially going to order. Not one of the items on their menu was “healthy” and yet I was stupid enough to act informed & read nutritional info! Yeah, analysis paralysis had kicked in and I left that place laughing at my head off at myself. Don’t overthink simplicity!

Part 3 on Tuesday December 11: Know the market price

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