You’re looking at an item on Amazon, trying to remember how much it was when you saw it in a store two weeks ago. Is Amazon’s price better? Maybe. Unless it’s a toy, in which case, my experience suggests: probably not. But the good news is that there are ways to find out. You probably already price check against other stores–I find Google Product Search the fastest way to go about that. But even when Amazon is the cheapest, is Amazon beating itself? Is a particularly stunning price something you should grab now (as those are sometimes quick to change), or is it likely to stick around for a while? The only way to find out is to check the price history.
There are a few sites that help you do so with varying results. I tried searching in each for a few things that I’ve been keeping an eye on, and on some trackers, not every item shows up in a search. For example, I’ve been looking at Nikon D5100 bodies. I already have plenty of lenses, so I don’t need a kit. Some price trackers, however, only wanted to show me kits with lenses. Here are three of the best options I found overall, for accuracy and features:
The Tracktor is both cute and good at what it does–it’s clearly the best of these three choices. Not only are the search results great, but the graphs are even better. You have options for tracking the price history of an item over 3 months, 6 months, a year, or the lifetime it has been on Amazon. It also overlays the new and used prices so that you can compare.
And if that’s not enough, extra features abound. You can set up a watch so that you get an email when the price goes below a level you specify. You can get browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, or Safari, so that The Tracktor integrates right into your Amazon browsing. And if you’re wondering where the recent deep discounts are across the site, check out the Movers to see what’s going on.
Amazon Price Watch
It’s not winning any web design awards, but Amazon Price Watch does a great job. In addition to showing a small graph with the price history of a product, it also shows you the history of its sales rank. It also offers browsing for tools, DVDs, music, books, and woodworking magazines. (The oddly specific categories are likely a result of the site having been a personal project that has become broadly successful.)
The Amazon Price Watch homepage notes that Amazon.com tends to drop prices towards the end of the business day, which means they show up on the site after 5 PM (PST). That’s good to know regardless of where you end up comparing.
I’m including CamelCamelCamel for one reason: I often see it recommended–but compared to the other price checkers, it’s not that great. If you have come here to read about CamelCamelCamel, I’d suggest that you check out the other sites I mentioned, instead. I feel their search isn’t as functional–if you don’t find what you’re looking for at first, look at the top of the search results and click the link at the end of the line, “To search Amazon directly, go here.”
There are two things CamelCamelCamel does do better, though. The product details tab for an item will tell you when the item’s price was last checked. And on the price history page, you can compare third-party new and third-party used prices separately, which you can also track.