Journalist's Toolbox Business, Part III: Covering Consumer Retail
May 17, 2022
Business Tools, Part III: Consumer Retail
Editor’s note: This is the third chapter in a three-part series on tools and tips for covering business stories.
The holidays are still several months away, but it’s never too early to start looking for a great price on a gift, right? In all seriousness, there are many tools online that can help reporters cover consumer retail any time of year.
Keepa: Tracks Amazon product price history. You can download the data directly or view it in a line chart. It’s free to use but a $189 annual/$19 monthly subscription gets more data access (a daily quota) and is well worth the cost if you’re tracking prices online.
CamelCamelCamel: This is a free Amazon price tracker and a good alternative to Keepa.
Search for some products in Keepa and CamelCamelCamel for practice:
32-inch 3-series Roku TV
Adidas men’s Adilette shower slides
Sennheiser HD 25 SE monitor headphones
Google Shopping: Search for the products below and use the filters down the left side of the interface to narrow down the type of product you want and where you want it from. It’s excellent for comparing prices at local stores to the chains and online sellers.
Ashley Tallenger Counter Height Bar Stool
Samsung 32-inch TV
A few basic Google search operators can be helpful in digging up product information on websites. A couple of examples:
Search within a site for a topic: Type this into Google.com and you’ll get a robust search result for the product: site:amazon.com Blink Outdoor Camera
Search for a file format/topic: Type this into Google.com and you’ll get datasets on US footwear CPI: filetype: .csv US footwear consumer price index
Search for a price in Google: camera $400
Search for a price range in Google : camera $500..$800
Google Dataset Search also can be helpful in finding consumer retail datasets. Just type the term into the search field. Try out these terms:
US footwear consumer price index
Retail price breakdown of Nike Air Jordan shoes 2015
Google Trends: Use Trends to see what people are searching for on Google and Google Shopping. It’s an effective tool for covering Black Friday, Super Bowl ads, etc.
Lustre is a free, Webby-award-winning product search engine that automatically compares products, prices, and gathers trustworthy reviews in one place. The Chrome extension works on Amazon, so you can see independent product reviews, rather than just random people’s comments. Handy on Black Friday or anytime you’re overwhelmed with options.
FakeSpot.com helps you spot and avoid products with dishonest reviews and scam websites for free with Fakespot for Chrome, Firefox, iOS and Android. The tool uses AI technology to track down the shady sellers.
Learn to use these tools and more by watching this video:
Around the Web
A deep collection of tools that solve file management issues, including merging PDFs.
BBC Africa Eye: Digital Forensics Dashboard
A collation of some essential tools tailored to journalists using open source intelligence (OSINT) to carry out investigations.
Chrome extension that tracks analytics on YouTube videos.
Cool Tool Tuesday
Don’t forget that at 1 p.m. CT each Tuesday, we feature a new resource on #cooltooltuesday, like you see in our Around the Web section of this newsletter. Be sure to check it out and retweet it. Here’s a video of some of my past faves:
In Quotes …
“There can be no higher law in journalism than to tell the truth and to shame the devil.” -- Walter Lippmann
Copyright 2022 | Society of Professional Journalists