Best Practices for Savvy Online Shopping: Know What You’re Buying (1/6)


As 2012 winds down & we prepare for 2013, I want you to keep your head about you…especially with all these sales frenzies going on here & there. If you find yourself shopping online this season, you’ll want to stay tuned; this is the first of a six article series on “Best Practices for Savvy Online Shopping”. This series will continue on Monday December 10 and end on Friday, December 14. Hope you enjoy!

Know what you are buying

Today’s marketing & advertising strategies for products often include bullet points of features that exceed our original purpose of buying a particular gadget.  In fact, consumers are regularly duped into accepting the many features of product A as a “value driver” over the limited features of product B. And because of our conditioning, we trust the assumption that “more is better”. The truth: more is distracting, period.

Let’s consider that I am in the market to purchase a can opener. Seems fairly simple, right? Well, I naturally hold a visual concept of what I want. It’s the can opener that my mother used when I was 6 years old…I’m 34 now. She still uses it to this day! I don’t remember the brand of her opener but it is the standard I will measure against because it represents the quality & characteristics that I expect with my new choice. So let’s start whittling down the specs that this new tool must possess.

1. First of all, it needs to be manually operated.

As I search online for the same style/design can opener that I have in mind, I begin seeing that there are so many visual choices. I used Google Images and typed in “can opener red handles”, here’s my result:

Red handles aren’t necessary, but it does need to be comfortable & efficient. Seeing as how modern technology has improved product design, I expect to end up with one that will fit those two criteria.

2. Comfortable & Efficient

It also needs to be fairly rugged and accepting of being tossed into a drawer or dropped onto the floor without incident. It needs to be easy to clean and free of rust vulnerabilities.

3. Sturdy & Cleans easy

4. Free of oxidation vulnerabilities & other “aging” issues

My specific application does not call for this tool to do anything else other than open a rolled-seam can closure…and it must do that well, without slipping.

Now, check this one out that I found. This can opener is versatile & you can tell so from its design. When you read the features on the product description, here’s what it says:

  • Auto attach feature
  • Lid lifter
  • Ring tab
  • Jar opener
  • Soda top opener
  • Bottle cap opener
  • Measures approximately 8-3/4″L x 2-1/2″W
  • 2-year Limited Manufacturer's Warranty
  • Made in China

Ready for the price? $22.97 Seriously! But do I want those added features? If you’re into tools, then you understand that the flip-side of having “added features” increases the potential for TTF or “total-tool failure”. I will not be purchasing this product but it is a solid example of the whole “ it does this too” approach. I’m not a big fan of this kind of push but as I accompany my wife on her shopping errands, I will specifically look for the opportunity to press a sales associate about their store’s can openers & report the reaction.

Part 2/6 on Monday December 10: Ask Questions AFTER You Do Your Homework


David SafeWater

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