There's simply no need to pay retail prices these days. In our top tech discounts series we're outlining the myriad of ways in which you can pay less for technology.
It was a novelty a decade ago, but buying tech and other commodities online has become a way of life for discount-savvy shoppers.
Not only is it easier and quicker when buying online to do your research by quickly jumping through reviews and product configurators and comparators, but there are a broad range of online retailers worth buying from – often ones you've never heard of.
Since you can't physically handle products you're looking at online – unless you drop into your local retailer for a play – the research phase is essential. Find a reliable site for reviews (for example, APC's Notebook Hunter
) and see what they think of the models or products you're considering. Be sure to check a few sources to get something of a consensus. One very worthy source to check is to look up the product on Amazon.com
, which stocks just about everything and is frequented by well-meaning shoppers that often post extensive reviews of the products they've bought.
Once you've narrowed down the specific product you want, you're ready to go. For boxed products that can't be customised, drop by a price comparator like www.staticice.com.au
to see who's offering the best prices. Online retailers like Mwave (NSW), Centrecom (Vic), DigiDirect (NSW), I-Tech (NSW), Megabuy (Qld) and others offer extensive online inventory at good prices, and tend to operate from shopfronts from which you can pick up your products if you prefer that personal touch.
Buy carefully, however: although most online vendors rely on good customer service to survive, some shonky or just uncommunicative providers may prove to be hard to deal with. You can often get a sense of their commitment to service by the number of service and delivery options they provide, ease of contacting them, and so on. When in doubt, try them out by ordering a low-value item and seeing if the overall experience is easy and painless.
As always, notebooks are available through resellers in a number of configurations, or can be tailor-made to your specifications through the build-to-order stores of vendors like Dell
. Name-brand vendors often offer occasional discounts through their online stores: Apple's refurbished-products page
, for example, was recently offering free shipping on refurbished and discounted iMacs, MacBook Pros and iPods; a 27-inch previous-model iMac costs less than a 21.5-inch current-model unit. Other discounts vary from amazing to ho-hum, but it never hurts to look.
It’s also worth mentioning the online-shopping initiatives of a number of physical retailers. JB Hi-Fi's site
is as garish as its retail outlets but has respectably low prices and was offering free shipping – and the backing of the company's physical store network if you have any issues. Similarly, David Jones
mainly sells headphones, iPod docks, iPods and accessories – at retail prices – while Myer's site
has a broader electricals range but also sells at RRP. Meanwhile, Harvey Norman
features a good product range but directs you to your local store; The Good Guys
offer competitive prices and, to sate the impatient, the option of buying online but picking up from your local store.
No discussion of online discounting would be complete without mentioning the innovative approach recently introduced by Melbourne-based electronics maker Kogan
, which custom-manufactures a range of well-reviewed electronics in Asia, then imports and sells them directly to customers at prices that are often significantly lower than competing products. Kogan's LivePrice pricing scheme
lets you buy a product for well below its retail price in exchange for a longer delivery time, and can be a great way to save big on monitors, TVs, appliances and other products you want but are willing to wait for.Pros: Convenient; low prices; easy to compare outlets.Cons: Can't touch and play with product before buying; shipping costs and delays; must be careful to avoid shonky operators.