Monday, August 1, 2016

Hunt Smarter - Use a Web Monitor

I enjoy the daily routine of checking my favorite online stores and seeing what's new, what's on sale, and what's dropped in price. But despite that, checking in on my favorite menswear blogs, and frequenting sales alert pages like reddit's r/frugalmalefashion a few times a day, I can't depend on them to notify me when the best sales happen because being second to know about a super sexy deal often means you're the first to find out you missed it.

A webpage monitor helps you stay on top of things by tracking changes on web pages and sending you notifications when they occur. That way you can be the first one to know when something you've had your eye on drops in price or that pair of Red Wings on STP moves to closeout from $199 to $139 - the type of rare event that typically sells out in minutes.

A recent monitor I set up that notified me when a pair of Apolis pants dropped in price during NR's Clear the Rack event

Here's how to use one:

Run a search for "webpage monitor" and you should come up with a shortlist of popular monitors for different browsers. I use the Distill Web Monitor add-on for Firefox, though there are plenty of free programs that should work similarly.

I monitor the entire Epaulet sale page to be notified when new items are added

 

Monitor a Whole Page


Once you've found something you want to track and set up an email address for notifications (you can also just get them through the add-on alone), simply hit the monitor program button, select "monitor whole page" if it's an entire page you want to track, and verify how often you want the program to check for changes. This type of monitoring is most useful for something like keeping track of when new items show up on a storefront. Be aware, though, that literally any changes to any part of the page will trigger an alert notification, including random banners, menus, and other things possibly unrelated to what you actually want to track.

Monitor Parts of a Page


You can also select specific parts of the page to monitor, something I've found to be more useful. For example, if I want to keep track of the price of these Iron Rangers, I can just select the price box on the page in the element selector. God and small feet willing, if my size survives normal sales I'll get an email within the hour or whatever interval of time I set when the price moves to closeout. Just like that, it removes the legwork entirely from having to check in on a page multiple times a day over the course of the months it usually takes for clearance prices to suddenly drop unannounced.

Use the element selector to choose sections of the page by clicking on them - here I chose the price and size 7.5 (then hit "save selections")

Using a web monitor isn't always useful in every case, and it won't replace the entire process of finding deals for you. But more than once I've found myself away from the computer and received an email that the price had changed or my size had come back into stock on an item I was interested in.

If you haven't tried using this method before or thought it looked a little intimidating, I think you'll find it's easier than it sounds and can work very well if you just give it a try. Tools like this help you hunt smarter, not harder, for the best deals possible.

...Unless you are an 8D shoe size, a size small in shirting, 36-38R in suiting, 31 waist, and shop at the same places I do. In that case, you should definitely not try it.

If you found this helpful, are having some problems setting it up, or have some more tips to share, shoot me an e-mail or let me know in the comments below. Happy hunting.

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