The Uncommon Guide to Shopping Online for the Best Deals

How to Shop Using an Hourly Amazon Price Tracker to Find the Best Deals Online (with Price Histories & Price Comparisons)

Preface

This Uncommon guide is going to teach you completely new and unique smart shopping tips and tricks to help quickly find the best deals online and save money buying better stuff.

" Hourly price tracker data can turn anyone into a money saving shopping expert.

Based on hourly price tracking, this guide shows how to benefit from profound price and sales insights to level the playing fields against sophisticated marketing campaigns run by slick brands designed to get you spending more. Move away from 'spending more buying less'. Start 'spending less buying better'.

Oh yes. Have fun too!

Table of Contents

1. How to Find Deals Online

Simply put, the best place to start your online shopping is Amazon.

" Amazon accounts for nearly half of all online sales in the U.S. and has hundreds of thousands of 3rd party sellers competing for sales.

Amazon has literally hundreds of millions of products available to buy. But it has a weakness.

Almost any given product type might have hundreds of different sellers and potentially thousands of similar options. Sorting out which products are even worth looking at can be a serious chore. Not to mention having to vet the sellers to ensure they are reliable.

To tackle this problem, product review websites write article lists with names like "Our Favorite 10 Smartphones to Make Your Life Fabulous" because they help make it easier for us to decide what to buy - from a smaller list of (hopefully) carefully selected, quality items.

Unfortunately, these lists are subjective and often prone to financially incentivized bias (i.e. review websites often have paid relationships with brands and advertisers to include their products in articles and other content) and aren't often backed up by hard data. They also become dated very quickly because the content is static.

The solution?

Shop Amazon via an hourly Amazon price tracker. In contrast to review articles an hourly price tracker is continually and automatically updated so you always get the latest prices, sales metrics, coupons and reviews.

" A price tracker offers objective price data, combined with visually compelling charts & tables to help you save money buying better products.

But how can a price tracker actually tell you which deals are better than others?

2. How to Know You've Found a Bargain

You've found something to buy. It comes with a 10% discount. So you click Add to Cart and are about to checkout when a thought occurs.

How do I really know this a great deal?

You could:

  • 1) Ask friends and family if they've bought this item before (and how much they paid)
  • 2) Shop around on other websites to get an idea of how much it costs in general
  • 3) Go to the mall and see how much it costs in store

All great ideas. But all a real hassle because they can be pretty time consuming. The easiest thing would be to see how much the product cost a few hours ago. Or yesterday. Or last week. Or the week before. In fact, having a price history would be able to tell you if you're paying more or less than anyone else who bought this product.

Let's use a quick example.

Take a look at this product page on Amazon for a top-of-the-range LG OLED TV (it's a big ticket item so finding a good price could save hundreds of dollars in a single purchase):

Amazon product page for LG OLED TV

Is that a good price for that type and model of TV?

It could be.

What if I showed you this price history for that product:

Hourly price history for an LG OLED TV

Given that the price is currently a touch under $5000, and from this price history chart we can see that not a few days ago (at the time of writing this guide) the price was under $4000. This TV was selling for $1000 less a couple of days ago.

How can the price be this volatile?

The thing is, Amazon is not a single online store. Instead, it's a marketplace with thousands of sellers competing for sales. Sometimes, for whatever reason, one seller might drastically lower their asking price (perhaps to clear out their last few remaining units in stock). So the price drops temporarily until those units sell out and then jumps straight back up.

These massive price drops can be very short-lived so it's important to be able to catch them quickly. To do this you need an hourly Amazon price tracker because all other services will simply miss these huge discounts.

" An hourly price tracker can pick up on huge, short-lived discounts that daily deal trackers miss.

Working out whether or not you're getting a good deal comes down analyzing the product's price history trends and deciding whether or not it is worth purchasing now or waiting for the price to drop again. Deciding on whether the price is likely to drop again in the near future is another matter entirely, and we'll see how a Buy Rating metric can help later on when we talk about how to decide which deal is best for you.

3. How to Compare Deals Using Price Comparisons

A price comparison list is helpful because it essentially whittles down thousands of options into a few popular, high quality top sellers. That makes shopping faster and easier right from the start because you know you are only dealing with genuinely good items.

A comparison list can group a set of related products together and quickly show you:

  • 1) which ones are more popular (i.e. selling better)
  • 2) how each one has been reviewed by customers
  • 3) what each product's current price is (and how much you can save on the historical asking price by purchasing right now)
  • 4) which one represents a genuinely better offer right now (i.e. one product might be $5 more expensive than another right now, but if it is usually $100 more expensive, and is massively discounted, it is probably a smarter buy)

" A price comparison list reduces information overload and eliminates reviewer bias by comparing products based on objective data.

Ideally most, if not all, of this data could be represented in an easy to understand visual aid (there is a lot of data being crunched behind the scenes, so interactive charts and tables make things easy to understand). Here's a price vs. savings chart for a comparison list of ASUS laptops that shows the savings on the y-axis (in percent) and the price on the x-axis (in dollars). The size of each bubble indicates how popular a product is (i.e. a bigger bubble means that item is selling more):

Savings vs. price comparison chart for top ASUS laptops

Charts can be useful, but an interactive price comparison table can also help us quickly isolate specific information we're after. Here's a copy of the ASUS laptops comparison list table (as it appeared at the time of writing). Click on any column header to quickly find the biggest and smallest value for savings and prices. You can also quickly filter out which elements appear by typing in a make or model in the filter above the table (i.e. type 'zenbook' to limit the table to only ZenBook models):

Name Best Price Current Price Saving ($) Saving (%) Rating
ASUS Chromebook Flip C101PA-DB02 10.1inch Rockchip RK3399 Quad-Cor (Small Image) ASUS Chromebook Flip C101PA-DB02 10.1inch Rockchip RK3399 Quad-Cor $249.00 $249.00 $50.00 16.72% Fantastic Deal
ASUS VivoBook 15 Thin & Light FHD Laptop Intel Core i7 940MX (Small Image) ASUS VivoBook 15 Thin & Light FHD Laptop Intel Core i7 940MX $628.80 $679.00 $0.00 0% Wait
ASUS ZenBook UX303UB 13.3-Inch QHD+ Touchscreen Laptop, Intel Core (Small Image) ASUS ZenBook UX303UB 13.3-Inch QHD+ Touchscreen Laptop, Intel Core $969.99 $1,136.00 $163.00 12.55% OK Deal
ASUS ZenBook UX550VE-DB71T 15.6-inch NanoEdge FHD touch Laptop (Co (Small Image) ASUS ZenBook UX550VE-DB71T 15.6-inch NanoEdge FHD touch Laptop (Co $1,499.00 $1,569.00 $130.00 7.65% Good Deal
ASUS ROG STRIX Gaming Laptop GTX 1050 4GB Intel Core i7 15.6 Inch (Small Image) ASUS ROG STRIX Gaming Laptop GTX 1050 4GB Intel Core i7 15.6 Inch $973.90 $974.00 $125.00 11.37% Fantastic Deal
ASUS ROG Strix G-SYNC 120 Hz Full HD VR Ready Ultra Thin and Light (Small Image) ASUS ROG Strix G-SYNC 120 Hz Full HD VR Ready Ultra Thin and Light $1,699.00 $1,699.00 $0.00 0% Fantastic Deal
ASUS VivoBook S 15.6 Inch Full HD Laptop Intel i7-7500U 2.7GHz (Small Image) ASUS VivoBook S 15.6 Inch Full HD Laptop Intel i7-7500U 2.7GHz $779.99 $893.39 $0.00 0% OK Deal
ASUS ZenBook Pro UX501VW-US71 15.6-Inch 4K Touchscreen Laptop (Small Image) ASUS ZenBook Pro UX501VW-US71 15.6-Inch 4K Touchscreen Laptop $1,299.00 $1,299.00 $0.00 0% OK Deal
ASUS VivoBook F510UA FHD Laptop Intel Core i5-8250U 8GB RAM 1TB (Small Image) ASUS VivoBook F510UA FHD Laptop Intel Core i5-8250U 8GB RAM 1TB $499.89 $509.00 $90.00 15.03% OK Deal
Premium ASUS Q304UA 13.3 Inch 2 in 1 Touchscreen Full HD (Small Image) Premium ASUS Q304UA 13.3 Inch 2 in 1 Touchscreen Full HD $483.00 $483.00 $16.00 3.21% Fantastic Deal
ASUS ROG GL502VS WS71 15.6 Inch Laptop (Small Image) ASUS ROG GL502VS WS71 15.6 Inch Laptop $1,598.99 $1,639.99 $59.01 3.47% OK Deal
ASUS X Series 15.6 Inch Laptop (Small Image) ASUS X Series 15.6 Inch Laptop $499.90 $499.90 $79.10 13.66% Fantastic Deal
ASUS Chromebook Flip C302CA DHM4 12.5 Inch Touchscreen Intel (Small Image) ASUS Chromebook Flip C302CA DHM4 12.5 Inch Touchscreen Intel $449.00 $464.00 $5.99 1.27% OK Deal
ASUS ROG G752VS XS74K OC Edition Gaming Laptop (Small Image) ASUS ROG G752VS XS74K OC Edition Gaming Laptop $3,299.99 $3,299.99 $0.00 0% OK Deal
ASUS M580VD EB76 VivoBook 15.6 Inch FHD Thin Light (Small Image) ASUS M580VD EB76 VivoBook 15.6 Inch FHD Thin Light $936.00 $1,034.00 $15.00 1.43% OK Deal
ASUS P Series P2540UA AB51 Business Laptop (Small Image) ASUS P Series P2540UA AB51 Business Laptop $729.00 $729.00 $0.00 0% Fantastic Deal
ASUS GL753VE DS74 17.3 Inch (Small Image) ASUS GL753VE DS74 17.3 Inch $1,259.99 $2,025.99 $0.00 0% OK Deal
ASUS FX502VM AS73 15.6 Inch Full HD 7th Gen (Small Image) ASUS FX502VM AS73 15.6 Inch Full HD 7th Gen $999.00 $1,083.70 $165.30 13.23% OK Deal
ASUS C201 11 6 Inch Chromebook Rockchip 4 GB (Small Image) ASUS C201 11 6 Inch Chromebook Rockchip 4 GB $226.65 $368.99 $0.00 0% OK Deal
ASUS 13.3 Inch Full HD Touchscreen (Small Image) ASUS 13.3 Inch Full HD Touchscreen $778.60 $995.00 $0.00 0% Wait
ASUS E200HA Portable Lightweight 11.6 Inch (Small Image) ASUS E200HA Portable Lightweight 11.6 Inch $394.11 $409.99 $0.00 0% Wait
ASUS ZenBook 13.3 inch Ultra Slim (Small Image) ASUS ZenBook 13.3 inch Ultra Slim $673.70 $759.99 $0.00 0% Good Deal
ASUS Chromebook 11.6 Inch Ruggedized (Small Image) ASUS Chromebook 11.6 Inch Ruggedized $201.92 $225.94 $3.06 1.34% OK Deal

Being able to quickly filter a list down to the items you are most interested in and then quickly reorder them according to the metric that most matters to you (i.e you might be prepared to spend a bit more if a top end laptop has a serious discount, in which case order the table by 'Saving') empowers you to save money and become a smarter shopper.

I'm sure you'll agree this is far quicker than shopping around on different sites or opening up a bunch of browser tabs to manually compare prices between products.

4. How to Use Price Histories to Guarantee the Lowest Price

Comparing products by looking at their current prices in isolation can potentially make things very expensive for you. A product might be offered at 30% discount right now. Sounds good, until you realize that it has been offered at 50% off for the last two weeks. Price histories are important because they can provide shoppers with pricing context.

In other words, it becomes easier to recognize a good price when you see it.

Let's say you wanted to buy an ASUS laptop and you saw this price history chart for the ZenBook:

Hourly price history for an ASUS ZenBook 13.3 inch Ultra Slim

Looks pretty good, right?

It's highest price was $949 at an average price of $812. Currently this ASUS ZenBook is selling for $759. A genuinely good deal offering roughly $54 discount on the average price.

By comparing a list of products it becomes apparent that (at the time of writing) there is an even better deal on another ASUS laptop - the P Series P2540UA AB51 Business Laptop

Hourly price history for an ASUS P Series P2540UA AB51 Business Laptop

With a highest price of $849 and an average of $807, the P Series ASUS laptop is currently selling for $729. $30 less than the ZenBook even though their average prices are only $5 apart. That's an average saving of closer to $80.

" Price histories help shoppers guard against the 'high list price, big discount' pricing strategy used by many sellers.

Using price history charts means you can objectively say whether a 30% discount is a good deal or whether the product is often available cheaper. Hourly price charts, specifically, will also pick up deep discounts that allow you to better understand what the discount limit for a product actually is (because it picks up on the really big clearance sales).

5. How to Decide Which Deal is Best for You

Using charts and tables to shop for the lowest prices might seem a bit like we're taking the fun out of shopping. A scientific approach like this certainly takes some of the thrill out of things, I'll admit. Fortunately, computers are very good at crunching big sets of data for us so we don't have to spend hours analyzing price charts and tables.

All we need is a Buy Rating metric that analyzes everything from the price history, price volatility, price range, average price, price means, modes and medians, current price, savings (in percent), savings (in dollars) and a bunch more things to spit out one simple piece of advice. Whether or not the product is a:

  • 1) Fantastic Buy
  • 2) Good Buy
  • 3) Ok Buy
  • 4) Wait

If you look at the comparison table above you'll see the far right column is labelled, Rating. That column tells you virtually everything you need to know because it has analyzed every aspect of the price history for each product to give you the correct buying decision.

" A 'Fantastic Buy' rating implies that the current price is at or within 1% of its lowest historical price.

But does a huge discount automatically imply the best possible deal?

Not always.

That's why it is a good idea to also look at how well a product is selling plus how well it is reviewed. You might have noticed that in each of the price history charts above there was a Sales Rank axis on the left. All these charts allow us to view both sales performance and price histories in one go - clicking on Sales Rank or Price at the top of the chart hides or shows each line.

Here's a sales vs. price chart for Crash Bandicoot on PS4:

Sales vs. price history chart for Crash Bandicoot

What's interesting is that you can see a correlation between the price and the sales performance (bear in mind that a sales rank of 1 is best selling item in its category, so the sales rank axis is inverted to show that sales increase as the sales rank decreases).

This chart reveals that this product is a very high seller, having reached the top 100 bestsellers frequently - especially when the price dropped below $30. It's a popular product. But popular doesn't necessarily imply well liked. Big budget blockbusters often pack out cinemas due to massive marketing campaigns, only for people to hate the movie. To decide whether a bestseller is also well liked we need unbiased customer reviews.

A price tracker wouldn't be worth its salt if it couldn't make thousands of customer reviews available at the click of a button. Here's a screenshot of the reviews for Crash Bandicoot (simply click on 'read the reviews' to instantly display the reviews in an overlay):

Customer reviews for Crash Bandicoot showing 4.5 stars

By taking into account pricing, buy ratings, sales performance and customer reviews it is quick and easy to come to the very best deal possible. But not all deals are price based. It's important not to forget promotions and coupons (i.e. buy two and get one free) that might drive prices down further - if we have access to that information.

Let's take a more in-depth look at coupons, amongst other money saving strategies, in the Advanced Online Shopping Tips section.

6. Advanced Online Shopping Tips

Everything we've looked at so far will help you save hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars each month on purchases across the board - basically anything you can buy online. No point in stopping there though when there is potential to squeeze every last dime of savings from Amazon.

6.1. Track Your Own Products

All the examples used above come from popular products that are made freely available to anyone to browse. But what if you need products that aren't available? Perhaps you want to do some shopping for your home office, or want to stock up the family's emergency medical supplies for a camping trip?

Track a selection of your own products using RankTracer Enterprise.

This will set you back a few dollars per month (starting at $5 per month), but as we've seen, there is potential to save hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars shopping over the course of a full month. If you have to buy a lot of stuff, or a few big ticket items, spending a few dollars to potentially save a lot of money is well worth it.

6.2. Sales & Price Alerts

Tracking your own products comes with additional benefits. You are able to setup email based sales and price drop alerts (or increase alerts, if that's something that interests you). Intuitively, we understand what the benefit of receiving a price drop alert is - especially when it comes from an hourly price tracker(because you'll get the alert before anyone else and be able to benefit from the price drop before it goes back up).

What use is a sales rank alert?

Earlier we pointed out that not all money saving deals come in the form of a price drop. Some sellers prefer to promote their products using coupons instead. In this case a price drop alert won't help because the price doesn't change.

" Sales rank alerts can pick up on special types of deals that price drop alerts miss; like coupons.

However, a sales alert will pick up on this situation because if lots of people suddenly start purchasing the product using coupons, the sales rank will jump. Knowing that a product has suddenly started selling like hotcakes allows you to quickly check around to see if their is a special deal on it that doesn't necessarily involve price changes.

In this way you can monitor products for a broad range of deals and promotions that straightforward prices trackers don't. Talking of coupons...

6.3. Coupons & Coupon Codes

Take a look at this price history chart for Amazon's 2nd Gen Echo Dot:

Price history trends for Amazon's Echo Dot 2nd Gen

Pretty dire, right? The price has gone up in the last few weeks (at the time of writing) from $39.99 to $49.99 - a price jump of $10. Quite rightly, the Buy Rating for this product turns out to be Wait:

Buy rating metric for Amazon's Echo Dot 2nd Gen

Looking a bit closer though, we see that there is a blue coupon snippet, below the buy rating button, indicating that we can Save $10.00 with this coupon. The price jumped up by $10 but there is a coupon for $10 so we're getting the same deal as before. Not quite as bad as it seemed at first glance.

In this instance price vs. coupon ended in a draw, but not always. The Echo Spot jumped up from $114.99 to $129.99 in the last few weeks:

Price history chart for Amazon's Echo Spot

However, the coupon available saves us $40:

Buy rating metric for Amazon's Echo Dot 2nd Gen

Net result. The price increased by $15 but we're saving $40 to give a net saving of $25.

That's why having coupons integrated into both sales and price tracking gives a more complete price picture. Using a combination of all three will help you squeeze every last cent of savings out of Amazon on an ongoing basis.

Of course, there's no need to browse thousands of products hoping to find one with a coupon available. Simply go straight to a complete list of every Amazon coupon & coupon code available on every tracked product and filter it for what you're looking for:

Amazon coupons & coupon codes

Remember that sometimes coupon codes only apply to specific sellers of a product and may not always be available on the lowest price version. Some coupons might also require additional purchases, or minimum cart amounts, so you do need to be aware of any terms and conditions going with them.

6.4. Shopping by Deal

Sometimes we simply want to browse deals without necessarily having a specific product in mind. Perhaps you're shopping for a birthday gift, or for a Valentine's date. In this instance it can be better to start off with a list of deals (as opposed to a comparison list of specific products).

An hourly price tracker, by definition, gathers new data on thousands of products every hour so it can tell us something pretty interesting things. Like, which products have recently dropped their prices:

Amazon products that have a price drop in the last hour

Or, which products are currently selling at, or very near, their historical lowest price:

Amazon products currently selling at their historical low price

These lists update on the hour, every hour, so it's worth browsing them now and again to see if there's any unbelievable discounts.

" Always check customer ratings and shipping costs of 3rd party sellers (if not Amazon) before purchasing the lowest price deal.

Think of each of them as a daily deals type site; only every hour.

7. Conclusion

The aim of this guide has been to help empower you to become a smarter online shopper. Hopefully you've learned a bit about how sales, price and coupon tracking data can help you make objective, scientific buying decisions that will ultimately help you spend wisely, buy better products, and save both time and money.

If I were to summarize everything we've learned from tracking thousands of products' sales, coupons and prices over the years it would be this:

" Finding the best deals on Amazon is about gathering & analyzing sales, coupon and price data to empower informed buying decisions aimed at saving money and spending wisely.

Look at it this way. Sellers spend a lot of time and money working out how to get you to spend more. It's your job to fight back by working out how to get the best stuff while spending less. Do a good job and you'll win. Do a bad job and they'll win.

If you have additional money saving shopping tips and strategies, we'd love to hear from you. If you're a convert to hourly Amazon price tracking and you've saved a lot of money, share your story with us. If you'd just like to chat, feel free to drop us a line.

Send us an email via our contact form.

Happy shopping!