• Economic Christmas, Cheap Holidays & Shopping Apps

    According to Google Insights this week may see a large spike in people looking for “shopping deals” on their search engine. Because of this and the recent Black Friday post we put out we decided to help consumers find the best deals with apps and browser plug-ins that will make the holiday season less stressful. According to an America Express (Amex) report posted on the Which? site, consumers will be looking to spend ₤360 on average for presents for Christmas 2011. Perhaps surprisingly that’s up for 2009 where the average sat at ₤307! That said the report also highlighted some growing ways to save – or perhaps improve – the approach on Christmas 2011 spending. These are:

    Secret Santa - Having a secret Santa for the family where everyone gets a present but collectively spend less
    Capping – Of the people surveyed 68% are looking to agree a limit of how much they spend on each other
    Gift Lists – A large portion of the consumers are saying that they will provide gift lists for more accurate gifts
    Vouchers – Not the most popular but its another way to make sure money goes to good use is by a voucher

    Booking Flights for the Holidays
    Google has a tool that was reported in USA TODAY (14th 09th 2011) that allows you to set your price for where you need to travel to (US at the moment) and will bring up an overlay on its maps tool and the possible companies you can get that deal from. You can set the price and the tool is easy to use. But, for the Creative SEO team the better tool is what Bing offers.

    This tool, though not very new (June 2009), offers a busier interface but still easy to use option. This tool has been gathering data since 2009 so they have had far longer to perfect the system. And that they have with a warning system that will tell you if you should book that New Years Eve trip TODAY or wait to get a better deal. The down side is this price saving feature is only available in “Bing travel cities” which limit it to the US. Still, even without that option the interface is great to use. To see the flight predictor tool in use – if you haven’t already - click here. For those in the UK you should look at Money Saving Expert as they have a range of great suggestions for travelling by train and saving that hard earned money. One of their more famous tips includes a method for splitting tickets while not splitting the journey.

    Buying Gifts With Browsers
    Now you have managed to get to-where-you-need-to-be let’s look at some great ways to save money when shopping. Even if you are using the suggestions that Which? reported on these will make it even more gentle on the holiday funds. First we will list browser plug-ins. There are two which stand out.
    Invisible Hand – Compatible for Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer (most versions) this is a simple tool that acts within your product search. We fist talked about this plug-in way back in January 2011 and how this can help with the best deals, online! They brag about finding ₤89, 867 369 in savings with an average saving of ₤6.39 for each search. They too support airlines but sadly again this is (still) limited to the US, UK and Germany. A quick test on one of the retailers this tool works with (see the full list here) shows that on Amazon we can get a saving of ₤100 on the Sony Alpha DSLR 390L by purchasing it from Play.com instead. Download the tool here.

    Booly – Like Invisible Hand this tool works across browsers. The odd part about this tool is that they have made it hard to find by searching for it. If you type in Booly (to which they and most sites are calling this) you will be lucky to find the tool. So just to make it easy it is boo.ly for reference. Again this tool can work with holidays and works from your first product search.
    You must be aware that it is generic search terms such as “Sony camera” that both tools fall short on. You must know the product you want for the tool to kick in. The neat part about Boo.ly is that it will show up small flags by you search results and these can be clicked to show possible deals. To make their site more visible they need to look at their inbound links and site content as both are very low.
    For the Sony Alpha DSLR 390L the boo.ly tool brought up prices in the states and not UK. Invisible Hand was able to detect where we were shopping from and provided local prices.

    Buying Gifts with Shopping Apps
    Below we will list some apps that you may be able to use while shopping to get a better deal.
    Shopsavvy – It is a simple bar-code scanner that will search online for cheaper options. This works for Windows Phones, Android and iPhone. Just as long as you can get to the bar code!
    Snaptell – Clever app that will allow you to take a picture of the product and will ping back a range of reviews and prices for its range of retailers it works with. Be warned, a bad camera and poor image will cause frustration and it simply won’t work. Their website is a poor execution when compared to that of Invisible hand that instantly makes you see the benefit of their browser.
    Groupon – This must be in the list as it is a way of life for most of us. It works for iPad, iPhone, Windows, Blackberry and Android.

    Now you have these you should not forget that the main reason for the holiday season is to spend time with people you care about, eat well and (most of all) turn off your mobile phone and stop working!