What's wrong with the picture above? (click on the image to enlarge) If you guessed the price marked "Low Item Price" is not really the lowest price, congratulations!
With consumers clicking the "Sort By Price" button, retailers employ lots of tricks to get their listings to come up first. Being a retailer ourselves, we also go online to compare our prices with others.
Here are some things we see all the time:
1. Lowest price on the product, but high shipping costs.
How many times have you said to yourself, "Yes! I found the lowest price I've ever seen for this product" only to be shocked when you click checkout and there is a $10 shipping fee tacked on. Reasonable if you bought a bicycle, but for a small box of test strips? What's worse is they tend to keep it vague and hit you right before they charge your credit card.
2. Low initial shipping cost, but charges by the pound.
We'll call this a nice way to trick you into paying more. $6.95 sounds like a reasonable price to pay for shipping, but how about when they start charging by the pound? How are you supposed to know how much the product weighs? Good sites like Amazon.com usually show you the weight somewhere, but you still have to do the calculation.
3. Confusing free shipping promotions.
Here's a real one: "Free shipping on your first non-prescription order over $25". Sure it's a great deal the first time you order, but why so complicated? Are they afraid they'll lose money if you keep buying from them after the first time?
In my opinion, shipping costs are a reflection of the company. The more confusing it is, the more dishonest it is. The ones that keep their product price low, but have high shipping costs are simply dishonest. Calculate by the pound, vague on purpose. And confusing promotions, why bother? Imagine the sinking feeling in your stomach when you need to return the product because it's defective. (I speak from experience of course :-)
Our philosophy at HealthWarehouse.com has always been simplicity. $5.95 flat shipping with free shipping over $50. So easy a caveman can do it (sorry to the Geico cavemen).
So to answer the question, "How do I find the lowest price online?", as Bill Clinton would say, "It's in the shipping stupid!", but you already knew that.