The 8 Best Online Shopping Sites for Cheap Electronics

sites-cheap-electronics

If you’re prepared to shop around, you can almost always save money on whatever you want to purchase. It’s no different with electronics. If you want to find cheap tech, you should check out these eight sites. 1. TechBargains Sometimes, it’s hard to know whether you’re truly getting a good deal on something. There are just too many sites to check; you’ll never know if you missed a lower price. If you’re looking for the best deals on electronics, TechBargains is the answer. It scours hundreds of stores, discount outlets, and third-party retailers to offer you some of the cheapest…

Read the full article: The 8 Best Online Shopping Sites for Cheap Electronics

sites-cheap-electronics

If you’re prepared to shop around, you can almost always save money on whatever you want to purchase.

It’s no different with electronics. If you want to find cheap tech, you should check out these eight sites.

1. TechBargains

techbargains deals page

Sometimes, it’s hard to know whether you’re truly getting a good deal on something. There are just too many sites to check; you’ll never know if you missed a lower price.

If you’re looking for the best deals on electronics, TechBargains is the answer. It scours hundreds of stores, discount outlets, and third-party retailers to offer you some of the cheapest deals you’ll find.

The computing section is extensive. The site offers laptops, desktops, printers, routers, and more. You will also find wearables, smart home gear, gaming consoles, and audio devices.

Away from tech, the company does offer a few other smaller categories such as home and garden, but the deals aren’t as eye-catching.

For even better deals, sign up to the TechBargains’ newsletter.

2. Slickdeals

slickdeals electronics page

Slickdeals is a community-driven site. Although the site’s homepage looks like any other online shop, all the deals you see have been submitted by members. To ensure quality, the rest of the community votes on the deals. Slickdeals also employs editors who curate specific lists of deals.

Furthermore, to safeguard your security when shopping, Slickdeals will only show offers from sellers who have received positive feedback from previous buyers.

The site’s electronics products cover everything from video games and TVs to cameras and smartphones. Like TechBargains, there are also small sections dedicated to non-tech items such as clothes and cars.

You’ll see deals from several well-known retailers, including Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart, Skyscanner, and Newegg.

3. Newegg

newegg components menu

You can’t write a list of the best sites for cheap electronics without discussing Newegg. The company has been in business for almost two decades. In that time, it has grown to become one of the web’s top online shopping sites for saving money in any category.

Its original focus was on computer hardware, but the site soon expanded into software and other electronics. Today, you can also buy power tools, sports equipment, and fashion items.

Despite Newegg’s expansion, it remains one of the best places to find cheap networking devices, computer components, and tech solutions for an office or workspace.

Much like Amazon, Newegg sells products directly but also allows third-party sellers to distribute their wares via the marketplace. Newegg only protects purchases made in the marketplace up to a value of $1,000, so it might not be the place to make a large, big-ticket purchase.

Newegg also offers a healthy dose of refurbished, opened, and discontinued items. They are available at even more significant discounts.

4. Micro Center

micro center router example

Micro Center is the first cheap electronics website on the list stuck to its real purpose—it only offers electronic items, nothing else. Of course, it also has physical stores around the United States.

There are five broad categories on the site: Computers, Computer Parts, Networking, Software and Gaming, and Accessories. Each is packed with deals.

Like Newegg, you can also use Micro Center to pick up great deals on refurbished devices and open box products. Almost every item on the site has a discount.

Overnight shipping is available in the contiguous United States. Micro Center does not ship internationally.

Note: You can save a lot of money by purchasing a refurbished iPhone.

5. Swappa

swappa iphone x deal

Have you ever considered second-tech? If you’re working on a tight budget, you can find big-ticket items like TVs, gaming consoles, and high-end smartphones for a lot less money if you’re prepared to accept used devices.

Swappa is home to some of the best second-hand deals. Like Micro Center, the site is exclusively focused on tech.

You buy and sell directly with other users, cutting out the middleman. To ensure broken items aren’t sold, Swappa has a robust listing approval process in place.

Some of the deals on Swappa are unrivaled by the other sites on this list. You can pick up a Google Pixel 2 for less than $350, an Xbox One S for $200, and a 15-inch MacBook Pro for $450. Even used computer parts are very cheap.

6. Bang Good

bang good 3d printers

Bang Good is a Chinese site that ships to the United States. It offers wholesale prices for single-item purchases.

Bang Good isn’t a place where you’re going to find branded products (though you will sometimes see deals on well-known Chinese brands like Xiaomi).

Instead, it’s a place to buy cheap earphones, speakers, phone accessories, 3D printer parts, security systems, and smart robots where the brand is arguably less important.

Bang Good’s big drawback is the shipping time. You can expect it to take at least one month between hitting the order button and seeing a parcel on your doorstep.

Oh, and don’t worry, the entire site is in English!

Note: Other popular Chinese sites for cheap electronics include AliExpress, GearBest, and NewFrog. AliExpress even offers buyer protection.

7. TigerDirect

tigerdirect homepage

Our next suggestion, TigerDirect, is back in the United States. TigerDirect only sells electronics and, unlike Bang Good (and other Chinese sites), all the items for sale are branded.

The company divides its products between 10 main categories. They are Computers, Monitors, Surveillance, Networking, Printers, Servers, Software, Data Storage, Power Management, and CPUs and memory.

TigerDirect ships to the US and Canada.

8. B&H

b&h tripod listing eg

Our final recommendation is B&H. Although the company does have a storefront in New York, these days it has morphed into a primarily online retailer.

B&H’s strong suit is audio and video gear. It’s what the physical store originally sold when it opened its doors back in 1973. Though it also sells computers and other home tech equipment.

So, if you’re looking for great deals on professional audio and video devices, camcorders, lighting, or camera accessories, B&H should be one of your first ports of call.

The site also has a “Used” section. You can find everything from second-hand camera lenses to darkroom apparatus.

Make Sure You Get the Best Deals Online

Knowing which online shopping sites offer cheap electronics is only one of the ways you can save money when buying things on the internet. Also, keep in mind these international shopping sites which offer free shipping when you are looking for stuff not available in your own country.

Read the full article: The 8 Best Online Shopping Sites for Cheap Electronics

Sam’s Club to offer same-day grocery delivery via Instacart at over half its stores by month end

Fresh off its $600 million round of new funding, grocery delivery service Instacart is expanding its relationship with Walmart, the companies announced this morning. The two first joined up in February to offer same-day grocery delivery at select Sam’s Clubs locations in the U.S. Today, Walmart says it plans to offer Instacart-powered grocery delivery in over half […]

Fresh off its $600 million round of new funding, grocery delivery service Instacart is expanding its relationship with Walmart, the companies announced this morning. The two first joined up in February to offer same-day grocery delivery at select Sam’s Clubs locations in the U.S. Today, Walmart says it plans to offer Instacart-powered grocery delivery in over half of Sam’s Clubs stores by the end of this month.

That expansion will make Sam’s Club grocery delivery via Instacart available to nearly 1,000 new ZIP codes and more than 100 new stores, including those in markets like New Jersey, Indianapolis, Houston and others, the company says.

In total, customers will be able to order from nearly 350 clubs by the end of October.

The partnership was first piloted in Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin and St. Louis, then reached San Diego and L.A. in more recent weeks.

The deal also allows consumers to shop Sam’s Clubs stores without a membership, including shopping its sales. However, Sam’s Club members will receive lower, membership-only pricing, Walmart says.

Deliveries are offered in as little as an hour, and may include non-grocery items, the retailer also notes.

“To help the holidays run smooth, we’re offering a wide product assortment available on Instacart so shoppers can now get household goods delivered,” said Sachin Padwal, Sam’s Club’s Vice President of Product Management, in a statement. “We’re excited that last-minute gifts, small appliances, extra pillows and towels – just to name a few things – are just a few clicks and minutes away,” he added.

The partnership between Sam’s Club and Instacart is significant in terms of Walmart’s larger battle with Amazon, which offers grocery pickup and delivery through its Whole Foods division, as well as grocery delivery through AmazonFresh and Prime Now.

Sam’s Club parent Walmart also offers an affordable curbside pickup program for groceries – which, unlike with third-party services, sells items at the same price as they are in stores. In select markets, Walmart offers grocery delivery, too.

In Walmart’s recent fiscal year 2020 guidance, it said that it expects to offer grocery pickup at 3,100 Walmart stores by 2020, and delivery at 1,600 locations. Currently, Walmart’s grocery delivery is on track to reach 100 U.S. metros by year-end.

Same-day delivery for Sam’s Club isn’t the only change Walmart’s warehouse membership club has made in recent months. Also in February, the club began to offer free shipping on orders, with no minimum purchase, and simplified memberships to two tiers, Savings ($45/year) and Plus ($100/year). Both of those options are cheaper than Amazon Prime, now $119/year.

Sam’s Club shoppers can visit samsclub.com/Instacart to see if their local store is supported.

Why You Should Buy Your Tech From China (And How to Do It Safely)

Most of the brand-name tech we buy today has inflated prices to cover advertisement cost, store rentals, staff etc. The Chinese market is different, and many manufacturers don’t market their products in the same traditional ways. The tech you buy is also most likely already made in China, so buying your new laptop with a more direct line from the manufacturer will not only save you money, but will hopefully help force the Big Names™ to re-examine their price points to bring affordable tech to everyone. What Tech Can You Buy From China? Cheaper production costs, little to no advertisement expense,…

Read the full article: Why You Should Buy Your Tech From China (And How to Do It Safely)

Most of the brand-name tech we buy today has inflated prices to cover advertisement cost, store rentals, staff etc. The Chinese market is different, and many manufacturers don’t market their products in the same traditional ways.

The tech you buy is also most likely already made in China, so buying your new laptop with a more direct line from the manufacturer will not only save you money, but will hopefully help force the Big Names™ to re-examine their price points to bring affordable tech to everyone.

What Tech Can You Buy From China?

Cheaper production costs, little to no advertisement expense, and a lax grasp on copyright law means that if you have some patience for delivery times, you can grab a bargain on anything from fitness trackers and other wearables, to laptops, mobile phones and even DIY go-carts.

The tech is equivalent in quality and specs to brand names you know, and other than slow delivery time and potentially poor customer service, there aren’t many good reasons not to get on the Chinese market bandwagon.

An increasingly recommended product line to look out for is Xiaomi. As a brand, they are quickly gaining ground on many staples like Samsung, Asus, and Apple. You may have already heard about the Xiaomi mi band fitness tracker or their popular redmi mobile smartphones, one of the top cheap Android phones.

Why Is It Cheaper to Buy Tech From China?

Want to try some new technology before breaking open your savings for high-end products? By buying from China, you can get your smart bulbs, drones, cameras, laptops, or robotic vacuum cleaners, test them, and either use them until you replace them, or give them away and buy a higher-end product when you’re ready.

You’re not paying for staff, customer service, fast delivery times, easy returns, or extended warranties (a warranty that few of us ever use). What you do pay for, is the same quality of product with a different brand name and logo.

Just get the product that you need and forgo the rest of the first world customer service expectations you may have. You can always get your own gadget insurance to cover your shiny device afterward.

Where to Buy Chinese Tech

Right now, two of the better and more popular sites are AliExpress and Banggood. Other popular websites include:

Be wary that the quality of service might be sketchy with some of these sites, but doing a quick Google search will usually let you know if the site is still good.

AliExpress online marketplace

Your miles may vary with GearBest, Lightake, and Geekbuying, whose delivery and customer service is reportedly going downhill. Gearbest especially has had a big fall from grace this year, but remains popular.

TomTop and Tradingshenzen are both popular, and might be a better option than the other three these days.

Our recommendation would be to hit AliExpress first and then check out the other sites for potential deals.

Some recommended stores on AliExpress include HK Goldway, Mi Store, Mi Global Store, Fantacy, Eternal Team, and Xiaomi MC Store.

More often than not, products will be delivered as advertised, and if they aren’t, the sellers are happy to re-deliver or to offer refunds for broken items or non-deliveries. Negative ratings will often kill a seller on AliExpress, so they will do a lot to avoid it.

How to Shop Safely From China

Many of the websites offering Chinese brands will do crazy deals regularly to get new customers signed up, so look for those and make your savings even higher. There is usually at least one coupon code you can use.

Most Chinese product resellers have a similar policy to AliExpress. Our article on whether AliExpress is safe or legit will answer many of your questions about what you can expect to experience when using these sites.

If you’re buying from AliExpress or other sites where there are multiple sellers, try to avoid sellers with few reviews. If prices are much cheaper than any equivalent products, keep in mind that it may be a scam or fake products, and look for something that seems closer to the average price point.

All that said, you will need to do your due diligence, and look for reviews of the product and the seller that you are buying from. Doing this will help ensure that you’re not being scammed, or receiving a dodgy product. The time spent doing this will definitely be worth it.

Mobile carrier frequency bands

If you are buying a mobile phone, make sure that the wireless carrier bands are available in your area and with your carrier. Our look at GSM, CDMA, and mobile frequency bands will help. You can find specifics about what frequencies your carrier uses on Frequencycheck.com.

Shipping and Delivery Times From China

When buying products from China, shipping could take up to 6 weeks depending on their warehouse locations. In busy periods, your order could take a week to start shipping. If patience is not a virtue you hold, Amazon might be a better option.

Do not order from any of these sites if you need to get the items by a specific date. If you do, make sure you order at least two months ahead of any birthday or anniversary to stay on the safe side and avoid disappointment.

If you are buying a more expensive product, we recommend getting the shipping insurance offered on check-out. It usually won’t add a lot to your overall cost, but if something does get lost the seller is much more likely to offer you a quick refund. Gearbest, for example, will only refund half of what you paid if you don’t have the insurance.

Customs and Import Duties

Most products you order from these websites will be marked as “gift” to avoid extra custom or import charges. There is still a chance that your package will get stopped in customs, especially if you chose one of the faster delivery options like DHL.

More often than not you will avoid this cost, but to avoid any nasty surprises, here is a US customs calculator you can use to see how much it could potentially be. In the US, the import duty is determined by the type of item you buy, and its price.

Returning Items to China

Returning orders can cause more headaches than what they are worth, so don’t order something that you would expect to return if it isn’t suitable for what you want. For cheaper items especially, your return shipping costs may be more expensive than the item itself.

Security Concerns When Buying Tech From China

In a world where we share (willingly or not) more and more information about ourselves and our lives, privacy, and device security are both becoming increasingly important to all of us.

We have previously written about the potential security holes in some mobile devices from Huawei and ZTE. While it’s hard to keep up with the products and manufacturers to watch out for, it’s likely they have similar privacy policies—some are just more obvious in their data mining than others.

It probably goes without saying though: don’t use these phones for government or security cleared business. See our guide to privacy on Huawei phones for more.

Read the full article: Why You Should Buy Your Tech From China (And How to Do It Safely)

Shopify opens its first brick-and-mortar space in Los Angeles

Shopify, the provider of payment and logistics management software and services for retailers, has opened its first physical storefront in Los Angeles. The first brick and mortar location for the Toronto-based company, is nestled in a warren of downtown Los Angeles boutique shops in a complex known as the Row DTLA. For Shopify, Los Angeles […]

Shopify, the provider of payment and logistics management software and services for retailers, has opened its first physical storefront in Los Angeles.

The first brick and mortar location for the Toronto-based company, is nestled in a warren of downtown Los Angeles boutique shops in a complex known as the Row DTLA.

For Shopify, Los Angeles is the ideal place to debut a physical storefront showing off the company’s new line of hardware products and the array of services it provides to businesses ranging from newly opened startups to $900 million juggernauts like the Kylie Cosmetics brand.

The city is one of the most dense conglomerations of Shopify customers with over 10,000 merchants using the company’s technologies in the greater Los Angeles area. 400 of those retailers have each earned over $1 million in gross merchandise volume.

In the Los Angeles space, which looks similar to an Apple store, patrons can expect to see demonstrations and tutorials of how Shopify’s tools and features work. Showrooms displaying the work that Shopify does with some of its close partners will also show how business owners can turn their product visions into actual businesses.

Like Apple, Shopify is staffing its store with experts on the platform who can walk new customers or would-be customers through whatever troubleshooting they may need. While also serving as a space to promote large and small vendors using its payment and supply management solution.

“Our new space in downtown LA is a physical manifestation of our dedication and commitment to making commerce better for everyone. We’re thrilled to be able to take our proven educational, support, and community initiatives and put them to work in an always-on capacity,” said Satish Kanwar, VP of Product at Shopify, in a statement. “We know that making more resources available to entrepreneurs, especially early on, makes them far more likely to succeed, and we’re happy to now be offering that through a brick-and-mortar experience in LA.”

Kanwar and Shopify chief operating officer, Harley Finkelstein, envision the new Los Angeles space as another way to support new and emerging retailers looking for tips on how to build their business in the best possible way.

“The path to being your own boss doesn’t need to be lonely or isolating,” said Finkelstein, in a statement. “With Shopify LA we wanted to create a hub where business owners can find support, inspiration, and community. Most importantly, entrepreneurs at all stages and of all sizes can learn together, have first access to our newest products, and propel their entrepreneurial dreams.”

The Amazon Index: 21 Amazon Features and Services Explained

There’s a lot more to Amazon than you probably realize. Here is every Amazon service, explained.

Read the full article: The Amazon Index: 21 Amazon Features and Services Explained

You thought Amazon was all about retail shopping, right? Ok, you might have also heard of Amazon Prime Video and Prime Music. You might even know about Amazon Web Services.

But what about everything else? There’s a lot more to Amazon than you probably realize. Here is every Amazon service, explained. We start with two of the obvious ones.

1. Amazon.com

Amazon.com needs no introduction. It’s the primary site of the company. Today, it sells hundreds of products every second across every retail category imaginable.

2. Amazon Prime

Amazon Prime launched way back in 2005 as an expedited two-day shipping service in the United States.

Today, the service has more than 100 million subscribers across more than 200 countries. The shipping benefits remain, but Amazon has since tagged on lots of additional services.

3. Prime Photos

If you live in the US, Canada, UK, Spain, Germany, Italy, France, India, or Japan, and you have an Amazon Drive account, you’ll also get access to Prime Photos. It’s a competitor to Google Photos.

Residents of the United States and Canada can even order prints of their images using the Amazon Prints service.

4. Prime Music

If you live in the United States, Canada, the UK, Germany, Austria, India, or Japan, you’ll receive access to Prime Music as part of your subscription. It provides free access to two million songs.

Note: Amazon Prime Music is different than Amazon Music Unlimited.

5. Prime Video

prime video home screen

All Amazon Prime subscribers receive access to Prime Video. It’s similar to Netflix; you will find a mix of Amazon Originals, TV shows, and movies.

6. Prime Reading

Prime Reading is a digital library service. It lets you borrow and return books, magazines, and comics from Amazon’s collection. It is supported on any device which has an official Kindle app.

The service is available in the US, UK, France, Spain, Italy, and India.

7. Prime Pantry

Prime Pantry is a shopping service for Prime subscribers in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, India, Japan, Italy, Spain, and France.

It ships non-perishable food and household products in a single box for a flat fee. You can load up the box with your own selections, using the on-screen graphic to determine how much more space remains.

8. Prime Now

Prime Now is an instant delivery service for the Amazon Essentials range. You can receive products within one hour for a fee, or within two hours for free. It is only available in selected major cities.

Prime Now is further subdivided into Amazon Restaurants (a food ordering service in the US and UK), Amazon Fresh (fresh grocery delivery in the US, UK, Germany, and Japan), and Amazon Flex (a platform for independent delivery services).

9. Amazon Key

Amazon Key lets the company’s delivery workers enter your home or car and leave a package for you.

10. Amazon Music Unlimited

Amazon Music Unlimited is Amazon’s answer to Spotify. Residents of more than 40 countries—including most of North America, South America, and Europe, can subscribe for a monthly fee. The service has more than 40 million songs in its library.

11. Twitch

In mid-2014, Amazon bought Twitch for almost $1 billion. The live streaming platform primarily focuses on gaming-related content. You can watch eSports competitions, head-to-head league play of various titles, and live feeds of individual players. There’s also gaming-themed talk shows and other content.

12. Amazon Drive

Amazon Drive is the company’s cloud storage app. It is available in the US, Canada, most of Europe, Japan, Australia, China, and Brazil. Prime users get 5GB for free. Everyone else can pay $11.99 per year for 100GB of space or $59.99 for 1TB.

 

13. Amazon Dash

Amazon Dash is an instant ordering service for household items. From a consumer standpoint, there are two devices to watch out for: Dash Wands and Dash Buttons.

The wand is a glorified barcode scanner that integrates with Amazon Fresh. The buttons can be linked to a particular item (such as kitchen roll or cleaning wipes). When pressed, they’ll order the item without further interaction from the user.

Check out our guide if you’d like to learn some Amazon Dash tips and tricks.

14. STEM Club

Amazon STEM Club

STEM Club launched in early-2016. It aims to help parents get their kids interested in STEM subjects (science, technology, math, and engineering). Amazon will send a STEM-themed toy every one, two, or three months. You can choose to receive an item for kids aged 3-4, 5-7, or 8-13. It costs $19.99 per delivery.

15. Amazon Books

Amazon Books is one of the company’s forays into physical stores. The first store opened in 2015 in Seattle. Today, there are more than 15 shops. The price of the books in-store match the prices on Amazon’s website.

16. Amazon Home Services

amazon home services website landing page

Amazon Home Services is a marketplace for finding home services. The service covers professional trades such as plumbers, house cleaners, carpet cleaners, window cleaners, and garden maintenance.

17. Amazon Inspire

Aimed at teachers, Amazon Inspire provides K-12 resources for classrooms. Content includes lesson plans, handouts, and exams. You can create your own collections and share them with students or create your own content and share it with other educators.

18. Amazon Cash

You can shop without a debit or credit card in the United States and the United Kingdom by adding money to your Amazon Cash account. You can top up your account in stores or by using your mobile phone. Participating stores include brands such as 7-Eleven, CVS, and GameStop.

19. Amazon Smile

If you purchase items through Amazon Smile, the company will donate 0.5 percent of the purchase price to a charity of your choice. The service is one of the best ways to donate to non-profit organizations.

20. Prime Video Direct

Prime Video Direct lets video creators reach new viewers via the Amazon Prime Video platform. Creators can choose either a revenue sharing or ad-supported payment model.

21. Amazon Web Services

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a cloud computing platform. It is comfortably the largest provider of cloud services, controlling almost 40 percent of the global market share. The second largest provider, Microsoft, has just 11 percent.

AWS itself is subdivided into more than 90 standalone services. They cover storage, networking, analytics, application services, deployment, developer tools, and more. The two most popular services are Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3).

The division now has revenues of more than $17 billion per year.

Amazon Services That Have Come and Gone

Amazon doesn’t get everything right. Plenty of services have come and gone in the company’s 25-year history.

Some of the most notorious include Amazon Destinations (which lasted a little over six months in 2015), Amazon Local (a list of neighborhood-orientated daily deals), and Amazon Honor (a donation service for creators).

It’s also worth mentioning Amazon Go. The first no-checkout automated store opened in 2015. It bills people as they walk out of the door with their purchases. Despite the considerable hype, no further stores have opened due to technical issues surrounding the in-store shopper tracking.

And remember, the company also offers digital devices such as Amazon Fire devices and Kindle eReaders. If you’d like to learn more about these devices, check out our articles about which Fire TV device is right for you and how to find free Kindle books to read.

Read the full article: The Amazon Index: 21 Amazon Features and Services Explained

5 Websites to Find Weird, Cool, or Discounted Amazon Products

Everyone tries to sell their products on Amazon, so it’s no surprise when a few items go under your radar. But once you know where to look, you can always find the weirdest, coolest, best, or even the most discounted products on Amazon. Right now, Amazon’s database is so huge that it feels cluttered, and you need different clutter-free websites to browse the catalog. You essentially need to change the interface, ditching the regular Amazon site for something new. Whether that new interface is by Amazon itself or a third-party, it’s a good way to uncover products that you don’t…

Read the full article: 5 Websites to Find Weird, Cool, or Discounted Amazon Products

Everyone tries to sell their products on Amazon, so it’s no surprise when a few items go under your radar. But once you know where to look, you can always find the weirdest, coolest, best, or even the most discounted products on Amazon.

Right now, Amazon’s database is so huge that it feels cluttered, and you need different clutter-free websites to browse the catalog. You essentially need to change the interface, ditching the regular Amazon site for something new. Whether that new interface is by Amazon itself or a third-party, it’s a good way to uncover products that you don’t easily see otherwise.

Amazon Scout (Web): Made by Amazon, for Recommendations Based on Likes

Amazon Scout is a pinterest-like recommendation system for likes and dislikes

You know how this works with other sites now. You press a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down icon to show if you like or dislike something. Based on that, a smart algorithm shows other things you might like. It’s how Netflix knows what you want to watch, and Amazon is now using it to show you products you might like.

A new site, Amazon Scout, uses the like-dislike mechanism to figure out which kind of items you like in your home. Currently, the categories include furniture, home decor, bedding, lighting, kitchen and dining, patio, and women’s shoes. Scroll, click the like or dislike buttons, and Scout will show you new items based on that.

The big difference from shopping on Amazon is that Scout is completely visual. You don’t view the details of the item, you only judge it by its looks. As the machine learns your aesthetic senses, it will serve up better matches.

CRwatchdog (Web): Consumer Reports Recommendations on Amazon

CRwatchdog shows Consumer Reports recommendations without subscription

Consumer Reports is known for its no-nonsense, unbiased recommendations. But you need a subscription to read their list of items to buy. CRwatchdog has taken that list and turned it into a handy resource for anyone.

Currently, the site covers four topics: electronics, appliances, home and garden, and car deals. That last one is particularly important given Consumer Reports is well-respected in that field, and has one of the best YouTube channels for automotive enthusiasts. You can search CRwatchdog, or quickly browse the “all recommendations” article for each category.

Note that you won’t find why Consumer Reports is recommending these items. Instead, you’ll only get a list with a small description of each product. If you want to know why it’s the best, you’ll still need that subscription.

JungleFlip (Web): Hourly “Open Box” Deals on Amazon

JungleFlip has the best Amazon open box deals to save money

Like any seller, Amazon wants you to pay the highest price it can get. But if you’re smart, you can save some big bucks. This is why Amazon hides some deals and discounts, putting them in hard-to-find parts of the site.

One such type of deal is an “open box” item. “Open box” items are things that are returned by users and the original packaging is damaged. Typically, these are unused items, often listed as “Like New” since it wasn’t used but was pre-owned.

JungleFlip tracks down these items in good quality so that there’s one place for you to look at them all. New products are added every hour in a clean interface. You’ll see the item’s picture, its retail price, and its discounted price. From a $175 air conditioner selling for $30, to $200 jackets for $50, you’ll find some incredible deals here if you check regularly.

Lightning Drops (Web): Find Amazon Products Reaching Their Lowest Ever Price

Lightning Drops have the lowest ever price for amazon products

Price comparison apps like CamelCamelCamel will let you track price drops on any item, and see its price history. It’s one of the best tricks to shop on Amazon, but if you aren’t tracking the item, you won’t know about it. That’s why you need Lightning Drops.

Lightning Drops is automatically tracking every single item on Amazon and has an excellent “Lowest Observed Price” section. In here, you can see which products have reached their lowest price in history. The products are categorized by those found in the past 24 hours, the past three days, or the past week.

Now that you have this cheat sheet of items that have dropped in price, you might be able to pick up some amazing deals. Most of these are not limited-time deals either, they are long-term price cuts.

Isn’t This Weird? (Web): Weird and Bizarre Products on Amazon

Isn't This Weird has the most bizarre and weirdest products on Amazon

Sometimes, you see a weird item and go, “Why would anyone make that?” Well, DIY projects can be weird, it’s all about personal taste. But then some companies decide everyone is that weird, so they turn it into a bizarre product and sell it on Amazon.

Come, my fellow weirdos, and gaze upon the hand-curated collection of wonderful weirdness at Isn’t This Weird? (ITW) Try your hand at three-player chess on a circular board. Gift your grumpy friend a “smile maker” to teach them how to smile. Get yourself an avocado saver so that you don’t waste half of it. These are the things you know you don’t need, but you still want.

ITW also makes it easy to browse, in case you don’t have an insane keyword to search. Look for gifts under $20, the most popular weird items, or gifts for men/women separately. There are a few other category-based listings too.

Overcome Amazon’s Limits With Advanced Search

Between these five sites, you should be able to find something useful or kooky without being overwhelmed by Amazon’s cluttered design. In fact, even if you search for things on Amazon, you might not get some of the items listed on these websites.

That’s partly Amazon’s fault because it has made the search function weaker than it needs to be. But as always, it’s about knowing where to look. If you learn how to use Amazon’s Advanced Search, you will almost always find exactly the item you are looking for. It’s not too difficult either, so spend some time reading this article if you’re a regular shopper on Amazon.

Image Credit: thisisbossi/Flickr

Read the full article: 5 Websites to Find Weird, Cool, or Discounted Amazon Products

Amazon’s newest brick-and-mortar store sells only top-rated products

Prime members pay the online price in-store, while everyone else pays more.

Enlarge (credit: Amazon)

Another brick-and-mortar Amazon store opens its doors today: Amazon 4-star, at a new location in New York City's Soho district. The retail giant's new store only sells products that have been rated four stars or above on Amazon.com, plus Amazon's own products.

The company writes in a blog post that Amazon 4-star is a "direction reflection of our customers," and in a way that's true. The average rating for all items in Amazon 4-star is 4.4, and most items have hundreds or thousands of online star-ratings and reviews. Amazon stocked the store with consumer electronics, kitchen and home items, toys, books, games, and more, but it doesn't contain every single product that has a 4-star rating or higher.

Discovery appears to be one of the main purposes of the new store. Not only does the store highlight the most-loved items on Amazon.com, but the company also organizes them into specific categories like Most-Wished-For, Trending Around NYC, Amazon Exclusives, and others.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

eBay vs. Amazon: Which One Is Best for Online Shopping?

ebay-vs-amazon

When you’re considering eBay versus Amazon for shopping online, the best choice isn’t always obvious. There’s a lot to consider. Everything from selection, quality of products, shopping costs and time, and customer support are all issues you need to consider. To make this easier for you, we’ll walk you through the pros and cons of shopping at eBay and Amazon so you can choose the best option before clicking that “Buy” button! eBay vs. Amazon: Things to Consider You can find almost anything your heart desires at either eBay or Amazon. Making the decision to shop at one site or…

Read the full article: eBay vs. Amazon: Which One Is Best for Online Shopping?

ebay-vs-amazon

When you’re considering eBay versus Amazon for shopping online, the best choice isn’t always obvious. There’s a lot to consider. Everything from selection, quality of products, shopping costs and time, and customer support are all issues you need to consider.

To make this easier for you, we’ll walk you through the pros and cons of shopping at eBay and Amazon so you can choose the best option before clicking that “Buy” button!

eBay vs. Amazon: Things to Consider

You can find almost anything your heart desires at either eBay or Amazon. Making the decision to shop at one site or the other boils down to the following factors.

  • Do you want new or used? Does cost matter more than quality?
  • Are you looking for something that’s hard to find?
  • Do you know what you want, or prefer to browse instead?
  • Does a personal connection with the seller matter to you?

Your answers to each of these questions will determine which site, eBay or Amazon, you should be using to buy.

Cost vs. Quality

Some people prefer getting the best deal on a specific item or brand, and may not care whether the box was opened or if the product was used once or twice. Other people care a great deal about receiving a new item in a sealed box.

As an example, let’s look at Sony’s sports earphones, the Sony MDR-AS210/B.

Sony MDR-AS210/B Sport in-Ear Headphones, Black Sony MDR-AS210/B Sport in-Ear Headphones, Black Buy Now At Amazon $14.99

With an Amazon Prime membership, you won’t pay for 2-day delivery. They come to you brand new and sealed in the original factory box, practically overnight.

The eBay online shopping experience is a little different when you search for these, which turns up mixed options for both new and used:

earbuds listed on ebay

New options are usually available at what’s called “Buy It Now” prices, which are usually a little bit higher than Amazon’s new item prices.

You may find some new items listed using the “auction” type sale at a lower price than Amazon. These are sales that multiple people can bid on in hopes of buying it at a lower price than retail. However, if you search completed listings, you’ll find most of these sell at or above Amazon prices.

completed sales on ebay

If you really want items at a lower cost than retail, you need to be willing to accept a slight drop in quality.

Used Means Compromising on Quality and Shipping

This may mean an open-box item or something that was probably used once or twice already.

used earbuds on ebay

Usually open-boxed, refurbished, or used items are available at up to half the price of what items sell for new. This is the area where eBay historically shines. Shipping is often free here as well but at economy rates rather than 2 or 3 day shipping.

Just make sure to read the fine print. There’s a big difference between a set of earbuds in an opened package someone returned to the store and earbuds that have been used many times. Both are kind of gross, but the latter is grosser than the former.

It’s important to note that opting for a used item to save some money is also available at Amazon. They’re not as heavily promoted as new items on Amazon, but inside most new listings you’ll find a link to cheaper used options as well.

used link on amazon

You’ll find items listed in Amazon’s used marketplace at similar prices you’d find at Amazon. And if you keep an eye out for the “Fulfillment By Amazon” option, 2- or 3-day shipping could be free if you have a Prime subscription.

fulfillment by amazon

So if you’re open to used items, either Amazon or eBay are equally good options.

Shopping for Hard-to-Find Items

One area where the eBay online shopping experience excels over Amazon’s is in locating obscure items that are no longer manufactured.

Years ago, when I used to work in the field of automation engineering, we had several pieces of manufacturing equipment break down. They were using old Allen-Bradley automated PLC controllers that had died. They were originally manufactured in the 1980s, and no longer offered for sale.

rare items on ebay

If you’re lucky you might find one of these items for sale in the Used Marketplace on Amazon, but on eBay, you can find many listings of these all day long.

If you’re looking for old electronics, collectibles, or antiques, then shopping eBay is a clear choice.

The Browsing Experience

Another thing that separates the Amazon online shopping experience from that of eBay is the search experience itself. If you know exactly what you want, Amazon’s the place to go and get it quickly.

On the other hand, the eBay online shopping process is tailored toward shoppers who like to browse through items, looking for special gems to buy. It’s far more segmented into specific categories. All you need to do is hover over any of the main menu items to see how many sub-areas there are.

ebay menu

As you drill down into those top-level categories, you’ll see many more categories on the left. Using these lets you browse down into areas you have the most interest in.

ebay categories

Once you identify the category you want to browse, you could spend hours just sifting through all of the unusual and unique items listed there.

browsing on ebay

There are also lots of advanced search features available on eBay to further hone down your list.

Even though eBay is trying to compete with Amazon in terms of new item offerings that provide free shipping and similar conveniences, this used item browsing experience has always been what makes eBay so popular.

It’s very much like walking through the world’s largest yard sale, and sifting through everything to find exactly what you need, but may not realize it yet. It’s also what makes eBay so wonderfully addictive.

Connecting With the Seller

The last factor you’ll want to take into account when deciding between eBay vs Amazon is whether knowing, or communicating with, the seller of that item matters.

On eBay, you’re far more likely to locate items that were used a few times (or more), that someone decided to sell right out of their own home. Photos aren’t usually professionally done, but they are of the actual item you’re buying. Not just some box plucked out of a warehouse.

used drone on ebay

You also have an opportunity to message the seller and ask very specific questions about the item.

If you want to, you could also send the seller a “Best Offer” to see if they’d be willing to just sell it to you immediately when you’re willing to pay a little bit more than the current asking or bid price.

contacting ebay seller

This aspect of eBay gives it more of a community feel. You’re connecting with a real person, not some corporation. You know exactly what you’re getting, and the history about it as well.

If connecting with the seller is important to you, then eBay is your best bet. However, if you’re just looking to buy something new off the shelf and really don’t care who’s shipping it to you, then Amazon is the place to shop.

eBay vs. Amazon: Make Your Choice!

To sum up, if the following factors are most important to you, then you’re better off with the eBay online shopping experience:

  • Willing to accept a few imperfections for a much lower price
  • Not really concerned with fast shipping so long as you can save money
  • You need to buy something that’s out-of-stock or not manufactured anymore
  • Enjoy browsing and discovering unique items
  • You enjoy a more community feel and relationship with the seller

If the following factors are critical for you, then you should go to Amazon to make your purchases:

  • Prefer receiving items new-in-box and are willing to pay a little more for that
  • Would like to get your purchased item quickly
  • The item you’re buying is available in most stores but you’d like to find the best deal
  • Don’t really want to waste time searching for your item

Ultimately, there is no winner in this race. It really boils down to what kind of online shopping experience you prefer. This is different for everyone, so consider all the factors above when making your choice. And don’t forget to explore our Amazon shopping guide and our online shopping guide!

Read the full article: eBay vs. Amazon: Which One Is Best for Online Shopping?

Is AliExpress Safe and Legit? Alibaba’s Online Shop Explained

aliexpress-safety

AliExpress is the international arm of the Chinese retailing giant AliBaba, aiming to challenge online giants like Amazon and eBay. But is it safe to shop there? How long will items take to arrive, and what happens if they don’t? Is AliExpress legit? And are you more likely to be the victim of fraud if you shop there? Here are the answers you need. What Is AliExpress? If you’re not familiar with AliExpress, here’s a quick primer: it’s a huge online retailer owned by The Alibaba Group, a multi-billion dollar corporation that started as a business-to-business buying and selling portal. It…

Read the full article: Is AliExpress Safe and Legit? Alibaba’s Online Shop Explained

aliexpress-safety

AliExpress is the international arm of the Chinese retailing giant AliBaba, aiming to challenge online giants like Amazon and eBay.

But is it safe to shop there? How long will items take to arrive, and what happens if they don’t? Is AliExpress legit? And are you more likely to be the victim of fraud if you shop there? Here are the answers you need.

What Is AliExpress?

If you’re not familiar with AliExpress, here’s a quick primer: it’s a huge online retailer owned by The Alibaba Group, a multi-billion dollar corporation that started as a business-to-business buying and selling portal. It has since expanded to business-to-consumer, consumer-to-consumer, cloud computing, and payment services, as well.

To give you an idea of just how big Alibaba is, they reported over $25 billion in sales on Singles’ Day (November 11) 2017.

What is AliExpress?

AliExpress is Alibaba’s online consumer marketplace for international buyers (while TaoBao is for China). It allows small businesses in China to sell to customers all over the world. Just like Amazon, you can find just about anything there. Unlike Amazon, all of the sellers on AliExpress are a third party: AliExpress itself does not sell anything. They just provide the marketplace.

Why Is AliExpress So Cheap?

If you browse some of the products on AliExpress, you’ll probably notice right away that many of the prices are really low. Why is this? There are two different distinct possibilities, both of which you’ll find in abundance on the site.

aliexpress raspberry pi bundle bargain

First, there’s the possibility that you’re buying directly from a manufacturer, which reduces the cost of selling to you. Costs for production in China are quite a bit lower than in other countries. The lax enforcement of intellectual property laws may also contribute. A lot of electronics (like this 4WD Arduino robot we built) have fantastic prices on AliExpress, because they’re made in China and you can buy them direct, avoiding the retail markup added by a middle-man.

The second possibility for an item being extremely cheap is that its either counterfeit, or fraudulent (or semi-fraudulent, as in the case of the GooPhone I5). China is known as a hotbed of counterfeit production, and AliExpress is no exception. You can get all sorts of counterfeit items there, from electronics to clothing. Some sellers have also been known to defraud buyers by tricking them into paying before they receive an item and then disappearing with the money.

Of course, being able to tell the difference is crucial.

How Long Does AliExpress Take to Deliver?

All items on AliExpress have an estimated delivery time on the product page, and it’s usually anywhere from 20 to 60 days. Yes, two months is an awfully long time to wait for something you’ve bought online! In my experience, about two weeks is the average time it takes most items to arrive, but you certainly need patience to buy direct from China.

AliExpress delivery time estimate

Be aware that this will be even slower at certain times of the year, like Chinese New Year (around the start of February), and Single’s Day (11/11). I once made the mistake of buying some Christmas presents during the Single’s Day sale: a few of them didn’t arrive until the middle of January.

Nearly all shipments (even those with free shipping) will have a tracking number once shipped, but it may take a week to actually dispatch before a tracking number is added. After that, you should be able to follow the package as it floats around various Chinese postal centers, and after a long wait, arrives in your local country’s customs clearance office.

AliExpress delivery tracking example

If you don’t have a tracking number after 10 days, you should reach out to the seller. You won’t be able to open an official non-delivery dispute until the maximum delivery time has been exceeded though.

In six years and thousands of dollars worth of shopping on AliExpress, I’ve only had to open two cases for non-delivery. One could be tracked to my local customs office, but had been sitting there for a month. The seller offered to send it again, and sure enough, I actually received both packages about a month later. Another was never dispatched, and there was no tracking number. AliExpress issued a full refund.

The Hidden Cost of AliExpress: Import Taxes

If you’re new to having an item shipped to your country from abroad, you may not have a clear idea of the import taxes involved; or that sellers will often attempt to bypass those taxes on your behalf.

Nearly all countries have an import tax: a percentage value of the cost of the goods being imported that must be paid to your government when bringing something into the country. In the EU, this is a 20% VAT that’s levied on nearly everything. It’s your legal responsibility to pay this, and the shipping company will pay on your behalf, then issue you the bill. They’ll also charge you a handling fee for the privilege; that’s another flat rate $10-15. Of course, this means that a $10 bargain gadget may not be such a bargain once the $2 tax and $10 handling fee is added on.

Many people are shocked to find these hidden charges, and end up leaving a bad review for the seller. As a consequence, you’ll find most sellers will automatically mark any packages as a low value “gift”, bypassing import duties. To be clear: this is illegal. You should pay your taxes. But unless you’re trying to pull off a large scale fraud, it’s not the sort of illegal which will actually land you in trouble.

Note that if you were trying to deliberately import something without paying the duty, you would need to do so using the slow, free shipping method. Express couriers like DHL have stricter rules and won’t carry packages marked as a gift. If something can only be shipped by express, factor in at least another 20% of the cost to pay on arrival before your package can be released.

What About AliExpress’s Quality of Goods?

In most cases, the goods you buy will be the same as those in the high street. However, sometimes you may find yourself unhappy with the product. For instance, perhaps the thickness of material for that dress is not as you expected. In that case, you should be realistic when contacting the sellers.

Unless there’s something specific in the listing that you can point to as being incorrect, simply not liking the goods you bought is not a good reason to demand a refund. So what can you do if you’re not happy?

  • Chalk it up to experience, and don’t buy from that seller again. If the item was actually delivered, and the product description and photo are accurate, AliExpress themselves won’t assist.
  • You might be able to negotiate a partial refund. If your first instinct was to review the product as 1-star, this is almost certainly no longer an option. Ratings are important, and may be your only bargaining tool.
  • You might be tempted to return the goods, but be very careful with this. Shipping something back to China may cost more than you paid for the item in the first place, and that cost won’t be refunded. Tracking items sent back into China is unreliable at best, and sometimes they can just disappear entirely at the Chinese customs office.

Be realistic about the price you’re paying. Check out some YouTube videos for an idea of the kind of quality to expect (apparently, “AliExpress haul videos” is a thing now).

The Real Danger of AliExpress: Fraudsters

AliExpress and Alipay are solid systems when it comes to security. They’re not invincible, but nothing is—and their track record is a good one, so you can be confident that you’re no more likely to have any of your information stolen via one of these services than you are using a more familiar service like Amazon or eBay (remember, even eBay has had a massive data leak).

However, there is one gaping hole in AliExpress: the merchant approval process. I can’t say what sort of process there is, as only merchants from mainland China are allowed to sell on the site, but there have been a lot of reports of scams on the site. So many, in fact, that the AliExpress Security Center has a section of fraud case studies and tips on how to avoid fraud when buying from their site.

fraud-case-study

So how do you stay safe from fraudsters and scammers when shopping on AliExpress? The same way you do everywhere else. Here are four tips—if you follow them, you should have no problems.

1. If the Price Sounds Too Good to Be True, It Probably Is

Scammers reel you in with the promise of a once-in-a-lifetime deal (this is one of the strategies used in the recent spate of eBay fraud). Check other sites to see what the going rate is for whatever you want to buy, to make sure that the price on AliExpress isn’t far too low. If it is extremely low, you’re probably buying a counterfeit product or being set up for a scam. For non-branded goods, savings of up to 75% compared to a high street retail store are not unusual.

2. Use AliPay’s Escrow Service

aliexpress-escrow

Escrow protects you in a number of ways. First, your credit card details aren’t given to the seller, so you don’t have to worry about them stealing your identity, or going on a shopping spree with your card. Second, the payment isn’t released to the seller until you’ve confirmed that you’ve received your purchase. So if you get scammed, you can just get an easy refund from AliExpress, and not have to go through the long, painful, and probably hopeless refund process with the seller.

3. Check the Seller’s Feedback Before Buying

anker-store-feedback

If a seller has a bad reputation for defrauding buyers, there will likely be evidence in their feedback and reviews. Be wary of sellers with any mentions of not delivering or sending sub-par goods. In the time I’ve spent on AliExpress, I’ve seen mostly positive reviews, and I’ve never had a problem getting what I’ve ordered. But it’s still important to be on the lookout.

4. Check Your Order Carefully When You Receive It

Because the escrow system allows you to withhold payment until you’ve received your order, you can confirm that you got what you paid for. Make sure everything is included, that it looks like what you ordered, and that, if you bought a brand-name item, it doesn’t look like a fake. Once you’ve marked an item as received, you have 15 days in which you can still open a dispute about the goods.

5. Never Buy Branded Goods on AliExpress

Branded goods are offered special protection in most countries. If you purchase fake goods, and your package is inspected, they will be seized. If you bought a lot of those goods and it looks like you might be trying to sell them on, expect a knock at the door from customs officials.

6. Be Careful With Storage and Memory Components

It’s a common scam even if you’re buying from a Shenzhen market stall, but even easier to pull off online. You buy a memory stick that reports itself to be 64Gb when put into Windows Explorer, but it’s actually a lot less. The firmware has been hacked, but you won’t know until you actually try to use the whole drive. The scammer is long gone with your money.

If you’re willing to risk it anyway, be sure to test the drive with a tool like h2TestW as soon as you receive it.

So, Is AliExpress Safe to Shop On?

The evidence suggests that shopping on AliExpress is indeed safe. However, be careful and be realistic. This is the same for any other online marketplace. Some, like Amazon, offer you more protections than others, but if you’re willing to pay attention to what you’re doing to save a lot of money, AliExpress is a fantastic option.

Read the full article: Is AliExpress Safe and Legit? Alibaba’s Online Shop Explained

Amazon looking into claims that employees delete bad reviews for cash

Some merchants pay up to $2,000 for employees’ secret services.

Article intro image

(credit: Getty Images)

Amazon began investigating reports that some of its employees have been leaking company information in exchange for bribes, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal. The report claims that Amazon employees have been revealing sales information, deleting negative reviews, and offering up reviewers' email addresses in exchange for money from third-party Amazon sellers. Typically, these interactions have been facilitated by intermediaries that seek out Amazon employees who are willing to offer such services.

While some instances have been traced to US employees, the practice is reportedly rampant in China among Chinese Amazon employees and local third-party sellers. Amazon employees in China may decide to participate because their salaries are quite low, and Chinese sellers may pay up in order to get information that can help them better position their merchandise on Amazon or to contact those who have left negative product reviews.

"We hold our employees to a high ethical standard and anyone in violation of our Code faces discipline, including termination and potential legal and criminal penalties," an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement. "We have zero tolerance for abuse of our systems and if we find bad actors who have engaged in this behavior, we will take swift action against them, including terminating their selling accounts, deleting reviews, withholding funds, and taking legal action."

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments