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How does a closeout website work?

By Catalogs Editorial Staff

Learning how closeout websites work will save you money while you have fun

Learning how closeout websites work will save you money while you have fun

An online destination packed with great deals can be a beacon to any bargain-hunter. Once you enter the world of the closeout website, you may become dazzled by the sheer variety of items offered. You may try to stay focused, but you will start musing, ‘I’m sure I’ll find a use for that.’ But make sure you’re getting what you think you’re getting.

This type of shopping is great for everyone, especially large families and people who love to stock up, even years ahead of time. Are you furnishing a new house? In that case, you will need a bit of everything. Will a new season call for a change in wardrobe or sporting gear? Here too you’ll be happy to let your mind wander without straying too far from your budget.

The mark-downs you find are often just right for price-conscious shoppers. One caveat: You may not get exactly what you’re looking for. If you learn to be flexible, you’re going to find something very close to what you have in mind. Sadly, though, coupons and other discounts are not likely to apply.

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But you won’t have to settle for no-name products. You may be surprised to find top brands in all categories.

Nuts and bolts

These sites may work in several ways. Some of them will want you to register ahead of time and sign up for email alerts with your interests in order to browse their inventory. Others are quite open for you to shop and add to cart at will. You will find all types of products represented, from health and beauty care to electronics, home improvement, pet supplies, jewelry and even food. 

Some places will specialize in categories such as fashion, makeup or designer handbags. A good general site will have all the same departments clearly listed.

How does such a seller get its deals? Stores over-order, manufacturers may make too much of something. Inventory builds up, and the way must be cleared for incoming merchandise. A chain of stores might shut down, and all of their goods then have to go somewhere immediately. Suddenly, consumers may reap a windfall, if they know where to look.

Many of these sellers will bundle items in sets of two or more. What if you don’t need quite so many of one thing? It might pay to buy with friends or neighbors, or set up a club to take advantage of the deepest discounts. You may feel good about spreading the savings around. Be clear about how you’ll be distributing the order when it arrives, so the process is fair and convenient to all.

The checkout process will usually operate like any other online cart. Add your picks, review the list, enter your buyer’s info and shipping address and then click to purchase. Be sure to note any fees and taxes, and save any order or tracking numbers. Jot those last two down on paper as a backup.

Is it the real thing?

Most national-brand internet stores will have a section named “closeout” or “clearance.” In such departments your options are confined to what that brand has on hand. These could be returned, refurbished or open-box products. These might appeal to you, but you won’t find the greatest range of choices.

There’s another factor to consider when you do find the real deal. The offers are usually limited in supply. You may have to pull the trigger sooner than later, before the sale disappears. You may see panic-inducing labels that tell you to hurry. 

Remember: It takes steady nerves not to act on all of your impulses.


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