Recently, Kelly Clay wrote an article in which she explained why waiting until after the holidays to purchase certain items is a smart move. I agree with her assessment, not only for the five items she mentioned, but for other items that retailers are hoping to clear from their stock — such as excess holiday decorations. Any of these items, or even just excess inventory items, could potentially see drastic price drops in the coming days. To alert me to these sales, I started using Decide.com in mid-November of 2011 with a specific goal in mind. I wanted to make sure that, when I bought my next electronic device, I would get the best price available.

Decide.com: Can This Site Help You Make an Informed Electronic Purchase?Of course, I have other options, including surfing every electronic website daily until I find the best possible price; however, by using Decide.com, I am able to let someone else do the searching for me. Once the search is completed, the site will then alert me when it finds the best price available or when it predicts that the item will reach its lowest price point. In fact, my family members are currently watching this website in the hope that they will be able to locate the best price on a specific HDTV that my wife would like to purchase to replace the old SDTV that we are now using in our guest bedroom. However, when I made the decision last month to give Decide.com a try, it was to see if it would notify me when specific laptop computers were at the best possible price and, as I stated in a recent article, I made a super purchase this month of a new Windows laptop computer.

Here is how Decide.com worked for me:

I signed up for an account to use Decide.com to alert me when prices dropped on a specific piece of electronic equipment (a Toshiba laptop with quad-core processor, minimum 6 GB RAM, 600 GB hard disk or larger, Blu-ray player + DVD recorder, HDMI, and a video card that supported HD). The most important requirement I set for the search was pricing, which I wanted to be under $600. Given my search criteria, I didn’t expect an immediate find, but about three weeks after I submitted my request I received notification from Decide.com that a product meeting my criteria had been located at Staples and was currently on sale for $529.99. Obviously, I purchased the unit immediately. You can read the article I wrote, Six Reasons Why I Am Sticking to a Windows-powered Laptop, that explains my decision to stick with Microsoft Windows and a laptop computer.

Due to my positive experience with Decide.com, I contacted Michael Paulsen, who is the VP of Product and Marketing at Decide, and he was kind enough to answer my questions concerning his company.

What distinguishes Decide.com from others such as PriceGrabber, Nextag, FreePriceAlerts, etc.?

Decide is the only shopping service that predicts when to buy consumer electronics with no regrets. Since we launched in June, our price predictions have been 77% accurate, and when we’re right, we save consumers $54 on an average product purchase. We also predict the release of new product models and aggregate news and rumors on product releases from tens of thousands of sources across the Web. We’re also different in that we’re committed to transparency. The 77% accuracy closely matches the confidence of our predictions. We’re not always right, but we’re up-front about how likely we are to be right on any given prediction.

Put another way, Decide is (to my knowledge) the only shopping site on the planet [that] has every told anybody to “wait” at the moment of purchase.

What does your company eventually hope to accomplish in assisting consumers in finding the best possible pricing for an item?

Our aspirational goal is to eliminate buyer’s remorse. Helping consumers save money is a very important step toward that goal, but there are lots of ways to approach the problem and multiple dimensions of buyer’s remorse that need solving. We know that finding the lowest price is critical, but it’s only a part of what we do and what we plan to do.

Currently the items your company tracks is limited. Are there plans in expanding what items will be included?

Decide makes predictions on 34 product categories, covering the most popular consumer electronics hardware and video games, so we’ve come a long way since our three launch categories. At the moment, we are focused on saving consumers money and helping solve buyer’s remorse in electronics, and this may include experimentation in answering questions beyond “when to buy.” Looking to the future, it’s fair to say that we intentionally chose a consumer-friendly brand name (“Decide”) that applies across categories because it reflects our larger ambitions. Considered broadly, buyer’s remorse clearly exists in all categories and we think that big data can be applied in helpful ways to help solve it. We get lots of feedback from our customers on this topic and it’s fun to hear all the things they want us to tackle next. Stay tuned.

I find it amazing that this company can offer this service free of charge, but since it is the same company that started and sold Farecast to Microsoft for some $115M, maybe it isn’t that far fetched, after all. If you aren’t familiar with Farecast, it advised consumers on the cheapest airline flights and has since been incorporated into the Bing search engine.

Give Decide.com a try and see what you think.

Comments welcome.

Chris Pirillo’s take on electronic purchases: