Every day, it seems, a new digital destination promises to save consumers money. But who has time to cycle through a lengthy roster of bookmarks in search of deals? The latest issue of ShopSmart magazine winnows the field to 10 indispensible sites (well, 20 if you count a sidebar with 10 honorable mentions).
Savvy bargain hunters will already know some of the featured websites well, but there's no denying they are tried-and-true sources for low prices. In some cases, ShopSmart drills down past a high-profile home page to spotlight a resource such as Amazon's coupon section, where customers can "clip" coupons that are automatically applied at checkout.
"We thought this was a really interesting new development," said Jody Rohlena, the magazine's deputy editor. She pointed to the eBay Deals page, full of discounted items with free shipping, as another example of an established player coming up with a new way to save consumers money. "We like to see that they're continuing to innovate."
The proliferation of daily-deal and flash-sale sites has particularly overwhelmed many consumers -- and their inboxes. ShopSmart names a few of the best and recommends Yipit to condense emails down to a single digest of daily deals. "I know some people think that they're burned out on them," Rohlena said, "but I can't imagine why you would be burned out on saving half price."
The list combines old favorites with relative newcomers such as TJMaxx.com, which the discount retailer launched in September after years without an e-commerce presence. Shoppers who might otherwise make frequent trips to the store can now rifle through virtual racks in search of designer gems.
Of course, these days e-commerce resides not only on the web but also within mobile apps. A list of 10 money-saving apps accompanies the websites in ShopSmart's Top 10 List Issue, on newsstands now. "People's favorites kind of depend on how they like to shop," Rohlena said. "Tablet shopping or phone shopping is very different from computer shopping." Many of the selections aid good, old-fashioned offline shopping, as well -- by digitizing and aggregating loyalty cards, for example.
Although the selections are inherently subjective, some of the honorees "put themselves on this list," Rohlena said, by standing out among similar apps the editors tested or by consistently turning up the lowest prices in "secret shopper" spot checks. The magazine shares DNA with Consumer Reports and stays true to that heritage of independent, unbiased research in making its recommendations.