Patty Rosatti bought a pool table online. She was determined to get the best deal.
"I will go on each site individually to see who has the best price, and then I can make my decision from there," said Rosatti.
Consumer Reports ShopSmart says there are sites that make comparing prices much easier.
"Price-comparison search engines are a must," said Consumer Reports Editor Lisa Lee Freeman, editor-in-chief, Consumer Reports ShopSmart. "They can save you time and they can save you money, too. But our research found that some are definitely better than others."
Consumer Reports ShopSmart assembled a virtual shopping basket of eight items, including New Balance sneakers, an "Avatar" DVD and a Samsung netbook.
ShopSmart editors searched for each product at 25 price-comparison sites. They wanted to see which found the best prices and were easy to use.
Some turned out to be a waste of time. On Shopping.com, that search for the "Avatar" DVD turned up paintball goggles.
But one search engine identified the lowest prices for six of the items, including at least $100 savings on that netbook. That top site is PriceGrabber.com. And it does a lot more than compare prices.
"PriceGrabber is great because it'll calculate taxes and shipping for you so you can compare apples to apples," said Freeman. "And if you don't like any of the prices you see, you can sign up for e-mail price alerts, which will let you know when the prices drop."
For shoppers like Patty Rosatti, that means no good deal will go undiscovered, in no time at all.
Consumer Reports ShopSmart says for the best results when comparing prices, use a product's model number.
Also, some online shoppers have found that when they delete "cookies" from their browser, they get better deals. The reason why you save is called "dynamic pricing." Sometimes retailers set prices based on a customer's purchase history and other factors.