By: Daniel Dore

“It’s a steal at twice the price!”

I recently finished reading Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, and in one chapter they discuss the information revolution brought on by the popularity of the internet. Their position is that the internet is remarkably efficient in disseminating information from people “in the know” to those with less expertise. They used specific examples of term-life insurance and (interestingly enough) coffins as examples of commodities that have dropped in price considerably in the past few years due to the emergence of comparison-shopping sites of all shapes and sizes. In fact, the most successful web-based companies are those that either make information more readily available to the masses (Yahoo!, Google, etc.), or allow you to search for the best deals and lowest prices (Amazon, eBay, our beloved Chitika eMiniMalls, etc.).

This sounds great, right? You can find the best price on what you’re looking for and save tons of money! Unfortunately I never seem to save that money. Here’s a recent example – I was looking for a digital camera, and found the perfect model in a local brick-and-mortar electronics store, and let’s say the camera was US$200 at this store (or, for those readers in Europe, around 30 Euros) (yes, that was a currency conversion joke). I immediately went home and searched for the camera online, and found it for US$150, which is great! I get a great camera and save US$50! Unfortunately, my mind doesn’t work that way. In my mind, I already have US$200 budgeted for this camera, so why not spend the US$200 anyway on either a better camera, or an additional memory card, or new batteries, or a camera bag… So, while I’m certainly getter better value for my money, I’m still paying US$200 no matter how you look at it (as an added bonus, I can complete the purchase whenever I like, however I like, wherever I like…it’s like democracy in a computer chair), and I feel as though I’m not alone on this.

Recent stories have highlighted an increase in online shopping due to rising gas prices in the U.S. which means that consumers can add in another factor – the gas they didn’t buy. Add that to the lack of time to be “talked out” of a purchase since you can buy it 24 hours a day, and this summer would seem to be a golden time for online merchants, couch potatoes and impulsive bargain-hunters. So am I alone? Am I daft? What are the differences in your online vs. brick-and-mortar spending? By Daniel Dore, Sales Support Engineer