With a market that offers many consumer choices, smart shoppers benefit from comparing prices and determining which of several similar products best meets their needs. You can do your comparison in person or through online shopping. Price comparison analysis focuses not only on the numerical pricing, but also on hidden costs that can be associated with the products under review.
Determine the type of product to compare. Similar products are available at multiple retailers. These can be mundane products such as soda or bread, or more complex, big-ticket items such as a new car or diamond jewelry. Make a list of the products you're seeking and any brand names you want to look at.
Price the item and several similar pieces at the first store. Price at each additional merchandiser. Go to the first vendor and look at the product. Check the prices of similar items and list them. For smaller products, look at the store brand as well. For large, expensive items such as cars, check different makers' models of the same styles of automobiles, such as sedans or SUVs, manufactured the same year.
Factor in gas and transportation costs and any miscellaneous parts you would need to buy. Often large purchases, such as those for home improvements, will require additional parts to be functional. Check the product packages to see if all necessary parts are included. Many times, one brand will include the accessories -- even if they are just batteries -- while a competing brand may not. This may affect the price.
Go online and check user reviews. People are not afraid to post their opinions about products they have bought and used. Read several reviews for the products you are considering to see if one product emerges as better than the others. Search for commonly reported defects in the products as well. Sometimes it is worth paying more upfront if the probability of future repairs is lower.
Decide which product best meets your needs. Factor in all information you have gathered -- price, reviews, accessories and transportation costs, if applicable. Ask yourself which is most important. Consider whether a high price cancels out a product's sterling reputation or whether the need to buy additional accessories makes a lower price less attractive. Also factor in any future repair costs. Then determine which product rates the highest.