Wednesday, December 2, 2009

How I search for cheaper LED flashlights online

This is what I do to find cheap stuff online.

First you have to know what you want. It should ideally be a specific model name. But if you dont have a specific model, here's what to do. Your 2 main websites are ebay and google. For example, I had no idea what LED flashlights brands were ok except maglite. so I searched for "led flashlight" in ebay. I then made notes on what models "looked" like they were branded and of high quality but were not too expensive.

Using ebay.ph, you only get philippine results but there are search options + a link at the bottom where you can expand the ebay search so it is worldwide. Using the ebay search, on the left side of the search results for "led flashlight" there is an option to limit the search to a certain price range. In this case I set the lower limit to 10 pesos and the upper limit to around 1500 pesos, the max I was willing to spend. This weeds out the ultra expensive stuff. You can up the lower limit if you want to wed out the cheapo chinese stuff. Next I set the ebay search result to order them with the most expensive items first. Optionally you can increase the number of results shown so you wont have to keep pressing next page.

Ok , go through the items. Discard those that are obviously of low quality. Usually if its dirt cheap and/or it has no brand name its chinese junk. In the case of LED flashlights, they only say what the bulb is like "6 led bulbs" or "5watt cree led" instead of giving a brand name. This is GENERIC, literally.  Make a list of specific models.

Next, go to Google. Google "model name" + review. Wade through the results and do this. Take note this is not how noobs surf. A noob would left click on a likely google search result, wait for it to load, then read the page and then maybe hit the back button of the browser, wait for google to re load AGAIN and repeat the process. Left clicking is for noobs IMHO. This is what you do. First set firefox or whatever browser you use so any new tabs that I create will be in the background. Going through the google results, right click and select Open in new tab. For firefox the shortcut is "T". A new tab will be created and since you set firefox to keep the original tab in the foreground, you still see the google search results. Keep reading and repeat for all likely search results. While you are analyzing the search results, the pages you right clicked into new tabs are loading in the background. This way you save time. Now read the online reviews, see the specs and make  a list of possible flashlight models you want.

Also take note of any hints or clues in the search results that you find. You might see a comment like "Conclusion: model X is good but its still not as good as model Y". You just got info that model Y might be good. Note it and google it later.

Ok now you finalized what model you want, flashlight model X. If you dont know the ebay price, go back to ebay and search for it. Dont forget to include the shipping price. Now google "model X". Once the results come up, look at the top of the search results. You'll see the links "Web Images Videos Maps News Shopping Mail more". Select shopping. You might also want to re order the results by price. Start wading through the results usnig the right click new tab technique. The results will send you to product pages on shopping websites. You'll need to know if they ship to the Philippines and how much it costs. Usually what I do is to first look for links to "store policies", "help" or similar at the top right of the page. From there you can see if they ship to the Phils. If you cant find it, you might have to click on the "add to cart" button and go through the process of enrolling/registering to that website. Usually all you need to do is to get to the residence or shipping address page. Go straight to Country and if the Phils is not listed, close the tab. If it is listed, continue. Usually you'll eventually see how much the shipping costs. Take note of the item + shipping cost. If their shipping costs are good, you might want to go back to the homepage of the shopping site and browse through their product line. Pay attention as you might find useful info such as new models or new brands.

You'll have to go back and forth between ebay, googling reviews and google shopping until you make a short list of candidates. Usually I get the cheapest but take into consideration the risk of fraud. A "power seller" classification in ebay means this seller has a high volume of sales and has a good reputation.

Once you make your decision, go for it. If its cheaper from ebay buy from ebay. If its cheaper in an online store, buy from there

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