I've always had an uneasy relationship to shopping. First and foremost, like any other guy I know, I hate the actual process of shopping. More than that, though, my approach to things in general is different than most. To make a purchase, I want to be sure that it will improve my life in some form. I abhor buying things for the sake of buying things (mostly because buying experiences instead makes us happier), but I still need to buy things, and I even get excited about some of them.
I also despise impulse buys. Most of America is set up to encourage this type of purchase by placing items directly in our field of view (say, at the supermarket) or by tying them to an emotion (in ads). It's an ongoing and sometimes difficult battle to face the barrage of products without constantly pulling out your wallet, though it does get easier with conscious practice.
When I do need to make a purchase, I use one of Google's most under-utilized tools, Google Shopper. Most know that you can shop for things directly from Google searches. Far fewer realize that by utilizing Google Shopper and its "shortlists," you can make yourself a much savvier shopper.
For instance, right now, I'm shopping for a pair of bluetooth headphones. Searching directly from Google Shopper, I can see results from around the web and filter my results to include, say, sets under $100 that offer free shipping (if I wanted to, I could also search only for things that are in stock in nearby stores). Shopper will give me a tidy list of results, complete with picture and price.
From these results (which helpfully include stores I didn't even know existed) I can add items I'm interested in to a shortlist for later reference. Google stores that info for me, and all I need to do to pull it up later is go to shopping.google.com and sign in.
I can also add product urls from elsewhere on the web directly on the shortlist page, or keep notes on my shopping research with text, images, or links, which is helpful to link reviews related to your product list.
If I inadvertently come across something that I want to add to the list later, I can do that with a shortlist bookmarklet. From the shortlist homepage, I can click the gear icon and select "get the shortlist button." Dragging that button to my bookmarks bar allows me to add any item I come across on the web to that particular shortlist.
Shopper isn't just for personal purchases, either. Users can share shortlists with others, who can then grab the bookmarklet for a collaborative list (this is fantastic for birthdays). And you're not limited to the web: you can grab an easy-to-use and well-designed mobile app from the app store of your choice.
Shopping, like everything else, is changing, and no one knows exactly what the future holds. Some tools, though, can make shopping better now, and Shopper is certainly one of those tools.
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