Most teenagers these days consider their birthdays as the perfect time to get whatever they want for a gift. Although there’s nothing wrong about that, it’s also very important for teenagers to see this as not the main reason for the celebration but rather, a minor element. That’s why it’s helpful that parents have ideas on the trendy 18th birthday gift ideas today.
So to make the celebrator feel even more special, here are some buying tips for parents alike when buying for high-tech gadgets for their children celebrating their 18th birthday.
How to do the shopping
Whether you’re the traditional type of a buyer or the conventional one, chances are you’ll use a combination of shopping strategies. Even if you want the immediacy of buying in a store, you may want to check models, prices, and availability online. Retailers themselves are using more than one venue.
Catalog companies, traditional retailers, and brand-name manufacturers have established Internet incarnations, and Internet companies are now publishing catalogs as selling tools.
While shopping alternatives have grown, the basic rules for smart shopping remain the same: Do your homework and determine the best value for your needs. The Consumer Reports Buying Guide, with more than 800 product Ratings plus brand repair histories for many product categories, is a good place to start a search.
Traditional retailers are still the main choice of consumers. Bricks-and-mortar stores allow what online or catalog shopping can’t-an in person judgment of the over all appearance and important sensory qualities.
Researching your purchase before you set off for the store can pay off in valuable products knowledge, time saved, and maybe—a lower price.
Specialty stores, special service. Need help selecting a product in a category that you’re not familiar with? Just want a real person to help you? Smaller stores, such as audio boutiques and Main Street shops, can provide a knowledgeable staff and personal service, including special ordering. These perks may be offset by higher prices. Determine a fair price before you go, by Googling it or any other humanely possible means. Then decide how much the extra service is worth to you. When customization is important, as with computers, shopping online can be the way to go.
Know the basics. Is finding the type of product you want at a good price more important than the latest technology and a large selection? Mass merchandisers such as Wal-Mart, Kmart, and Target cover many categories, with a selection of moderately priced brands from well-known manufacturers, along with their own store-brands. (Wal-Mart and Kmart together account for a huge share of total sales in many categories of appliances and electronic items) In a recent survey, Sears, Target, and Wal-Mart all got high scores for product selection. Some chains, such as JC Penney, have an auction site, where shoppers can bid on merchandise the company wants to move.
Though return policies at most mass merchandisers are usually liberal, returns may entail time and can be a daunting experience.
Big stores, big selection. Specialty chains such as Circuit City and Best Buy account for three-quarters of home electronics sales. Home Depot and Lowes control one-fourth of the home improvement product market. CompUSAs inhabit strip malls across the country. Sears has a network of stores and a website with lots of product choices for major appliances and other home products.
These chains may also feature special services, such as viewing listening rooms for home theater demonstrations. And although sales staff expertise may vary, you can generally get questions answered.
Join the club. If you’re willing to be flexible on brand and model, check a warehouse club. Since these stores emphasize value, not service or selection, expect long lines and less sales help.
Catalog strategies Catalogs offer selection and convenience, often from established companies with proven track records and top-notch customer service, plus 24/7 access. Many catalog merchants are also online. catalog-web connection can give the best of both venues. You can browse the catalog (leafing through pages can be quicker than waiting for screens to redraw) and then order online using a catalog’s quick search feature.
Online catalogs typically feature more merchandise than expensive to-mail paper catalogs. You’ll often find merchandise from an entire year worth of catalogs online. Websites frequently feature lines not available in the paper catalog, online only sales and bargains, even product selection tips.
Habitues of online catalog venues can snap up specials and closeouts before items go out of stock. Ordering from a catalog over the phone or the web is usually quick, but popular items can still be on back-order, even if
they seemed to be in stock when you placed the order. If you don’t receive your purchase within the promised time, check back. And before you order, check shipping fees: They can vary widely and add significantly to the cost of the order.
Online shopping cart
You can hunt down just about anything on the web, from potato chips to vacation homes, but you’ll find that some items are more e-commerce-compatible than others, Books, music, videos, DVDs, and software are big online successes because they’re standardized products and no bricks-and-mortar store can stock every title. Branded electronics items also lend themselves to online shopping because its handy to select them by manufacturer and specific features. Shipping is another factor: Small, lightweight purchases–books as oppose to say, refrigerator–are top online sellers.
Perhaps even more then for buying, the Internet is immensely useful for researching a purchase. Information that would previously would have taken hours and many phone calls, is now available in just a few clicks of the mouse. Thus armed, you can make better decisions about where to buy, what to buy, and what to pay.
Internet auction sites deal in anything people want to sell. Though sellers provide descriptions (and, often, digital images), details may be fuzzy. Except for sites operated by retailers or businesses, most auction sites do not verify item condition-or whether it really exists. Thus the largest Internet auction site, eBay, suggests you get a written statement from the seller detailing condition and value, return policy, warranty information, promised delivery date, and an address and telephone number. If you buy something at an auction site, use a credit card (not a debit card) or work out terms with an online escrow service, such as Escrow.com, which processes transactions. (Fees are based on the amount of the transaction, method of payment, and, sometimes, shipping costs.) At pick-your-own-price sites, you name a price for, say, airline tickets, hotels, or a mortgage, and merchants come to you. Price line originated this type of reverse auction.” The catch: You must provide a credit card number up front. If Price line finds the item at your price, your credit card is charged immediately, usually with no cancellation option. nor can you request a specific brand.