The way consumers shop has changed drastically over the past 20 years. It doesn’t matter whether you’re shopping for electronics, home-improvement services, or another big-ticket item—you really don’t need to make all those trips from store to store to compare products and prices. That’s because now most of us do the research right from our own homes—on-line.
The Internet has opened up a whole new world to consumers. You can research brands, compare prices and warranties, and even get other consumers’ opinions and ratings—all from the comfort of your home.
Before investing in any major purchases—home improvement or otherwise—I highly recommend “knowing your stuff.” What I mean is this: you no longer have to depend solely on what a salesperson tells you. Instead, check out a number of different products on-line. If, for instance, you are researching windows, some of your questions might be: What frame material is more energy efficient, wood or vinyl? What do all NFRC ratings mean, and what are the ratings for the products I’m considering? Do the products qualify for the ENERGY STAR label? Which window operating style will work best for my home? Which manufacturers have the best reputation for quality? Who offers the best warranties?
Research a number of manufacturers and products and, once you decide what type of product you like, compare “apples to apples”—in terms of cost, energy efficiency, installation, expected life, warranty, etc. Visit blogs or chat rooms and find out what experiences other consumers have had with various products and companies.
The Internet has opened up a world of possibilities when it comes to researching and making buying decisions. We should all take advantage of this valuable tool to make educated buying decisions!
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