Five Traps to Avoid When Shopping on Amazon
Updated: Dec 9, 2019
Amazon is the world's largest online shopping platform. However, we bet you already knew that. After all, almost everyone knows what Amazon is, whether they love it or hate it. What many people don't know are the tricks and hacks that go into shopping on the super-massive site.
Rather than wish you the best, Popcart is here to help you out! As a price comparison tool (more on that later), we always want to make sure that you're getting the most for your money no matter what. We are that simple, even when Amazon is not. Now, back to the issue at hand.
Amazon is More Than Clicking & Buying
Sure, they offer a "One Click Purchase" experience. However, shopping on Amazon for the best deal isn't that simple. We think finding the best deal on Amazon (on your own) is harder than it should be.
Why is Shopping On Amazon So Hard?
First, imagine walking down the toilet paper aisle to look at your options. You can see each one next to the other in person with prices, and even unit prices listed on the shelf. That kind of easy searching is impossible on Amazon.
Sure, you can compare products and even look at reviews. Yet, looking at the thousands of results that come up would take time. It's not just decision fatigue you have to worry about, though. That's why we've gathered the top five things (decision fatigue aside) we think you should look out for when shopping on Amazon.
Save Money & Time With These Five Amazon Tricks
1. Avoid Third-Party Sellers
Third-party sellers are something that we've talked a lot about before. We'd call them the arch-nemesis of a good online deal if that didn't make us sound too dramatic. Third-party sellers are stores on Amazon that are selling someone else's product.
At least, in theory, that's what they're doing. In reality, third-party sellers could be selling a cheap knockoff as "a great deal" or putting extreme markups on items making them outrageously overpriced. This means paying twice or more what you would have from the original company without knowing any better.
Our standing advice is to stay away altogether. While third-party sellers might seem like a great way to save money or get a deal, all they are is a great way to make a bad gamble. Staying with authorized sellers and real brands will ensure you get the genuine product at a safe and reasonable price.
2. Look Carefully At Amazon's Choice
Would you be surprised if we told you not every customer review on Amazon is genuine? BuzzFeed News recently researched dozens of Amazon's Choice products that found listings with troubling product defects and warnings, as well as review manipulation."*
Why is this happening, though? When you look at a "Choice" item, Amazon tells you that the items are highly-rated and ready to ship. However, as CNETpointed out - highly-rated doesn't mean high-quality. It doesn't even imply highly-rated as both groups found ample cases of review manipulation and bots on most of the items that they looked at, including "Choice" items.*
What do we recommend? Paying attention. Before buying anything on Amazon, you should always ask, "Is this deal too good to be true?" and "Do the reviews look real and recent?" Taking your time to look at all the parts of a product page can help you find something you like, that's also worth the money you'll be paying.
3. Sponsored Products Are Ads
Searching for a product on Amazon will always leave you with between one to five sponsored products, followed by all the "normal stuff" you were expecting. These aren't your regular listings; these are advertisements made to look like listings.
They look identical to the regular products with just a light grey "Sponsored" tag to mark them as different. They make this tag almost disguised, so you don't notice, leaving you with dozens in a single shopping experience.
The issue? An advertisement is not a good reason to buy a product. Let's go back a step first. Just like Google, the results Amazon chooses to show you first are things that they rank as relevant and high-quality. Products with excellent photos, descriptions, and reviews, for example.
That system can be bypassed, to an extent, with sponsored products. When an advertiser pays, they don't have to worry about perfect reviews, great photos, or a complete description to the same extent that the person who shows up first naturally does.
Sure, there's a high chance it's a good product that leaves many people satisfied. On the other hand, it could be an overpriced copycat of something two rows or two pages down the search results. For example, take a look at this Cottonelle toilet paper search result.
If you're going to look at the sponsored product listings, always make sure that you compare prices and sizes to make sure you're not getting tricked out of money by someone who paid to be at the top.
We took a quick look at this on Amazon recently and were pretty shocked by our discovery. When we searched for "Cottonelle" on Amazon. The top search result we were provided with was a "Sponsored" Cottonelle Ultra ComfortCare 24 Family Mega Pack for $29.99.
After checking the price with Popcart, we found we could buy the exact same product, Cottonelle Ultra ComfortCare, for the same number of rolls and sheets for $10.01 less! This is a perfect example of the Sponsored products trap to avoid when shopping on Amazon and we're here to help.
4. Careful When Reordering the Same Product, Same Listing
Related to the issues of sponsored ads is the issue of reorders. By this, we mean hitting the "buy again" button on something you found and loved. Sounds simple right? Well, on Amazon, simple often isn't so great for your wallet.
For example, let's say that you bought some Neutrogena wipes on Amazon from a sponsored ad. After using them, you want more. Well, when you hit the reorder button, you could be charged $10 more because the pricing changed on the original listing! Not exactly the "more" you were thinking, but why did it happen?
While they are essentially the same item, one was a sponsored listing, a sale to get you hooked! When you reorder the product, it's going to choose the traditional listing rather than the deal you chose last time.
It's not just sponsored products, though. If you read our last post, you might remember our talk about dynamic pricing. Well, it's not just Subscribe & Save that this effects. Hitting reorder without checking the current product price could have you lose quite a bit of money.
What should you do? Go through your history or do a quick search and reorder it that way. Make sure you are getting the most for your money rather than trusting Amazon to simplify the process!
5. Pay No Mind to Amazon's "Unit Prices"
Think back to that toilet paper example. At your grocery store, you'll see price tags on each shelf of products. Usually, those will have the product name, barcode, price, and unit price listed in a uniform method. That's why looking for the best deal in a store is so easy.
However, this is not the case on Amazon's listings. They don't offer or require unit prices on every listing, making the whole deal that much harder. For example, if you search for "dish soap" and look at the results page, you'll notice some listings have the unit price, and others don't.
This lack of uniformity is troublesome and unhelpful. As bargain shoppers, we NEED the unit price to know we're getting the best deal. On Amazon, not all listings are created equal, and that's not something we like.
Take this example of dish soaps. We found not all product listings on Amazon even have unit prices like the bottle of Mrs. Meyers Clean Day Liquid Dish soap we found.
Popcart– Shop on Amazon With Peace of Mind
This is why we built Popcart. Shop on Amazon all the time? Use Subscribe & Save because it's convenient but don't know if you're getting the best price? You might be leaving money on the table.
Popcart gives you peace of mind! Popcart looks at all products of the same brand, not just Amazon sponsored or choice products. Then it checks Target, Walmart, and Sephora to make sure that you're always getting the best price.
Best of all, Popcart is free! Make sure you're getting the best price possible when shopping on Amazon by getting Popcart today.