|Set 8039 Venator-Class Republic Attack Cruiser - my first Amazon LEGO purchase....|
What was needed was a way of checking Amazon for the best deals on a more comprehensive, systematic and regular basis, and this dream started to become a reality back in early 2011 when Huw from Brickset and I started work on an automated system for doing exactly that. After much discussion, experimentation, iteration, reiteration, testing, more testing and tweaking, the Bargain Watch system was launched in September 2011 In a nutshell, Bargain Watch analyses the LEGO sets currently available for sale on Amazon in a number of countries and calculates the level of discount on each set by comparing the Amazon price with the LEGO RRP. Sets are then ranked in order of discount and a listing is generated, complete with links so that you can click through and buy the set. Use of the LEGO RRPs to calculate the level of discount is important - some rival systems take Amazon's word for the RRPs when calculating the percentage discount, and this can be misleading as Amazon sometimes list an incorrect RRP. Also, where possible Bargain Watch factors shipping costs into the equation when working out the level of discount so that there are hopefully no nasty surprises when you decide to take the plunge and make a purchase.
Once home to a few hand-generated links, the Gimme LEGO Bargain Hunt ! page is now home to a subset of the Bargain Watch listings, namely ranked lists of the twenty LEGO sets across all themes available on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com with the biggest percentage discount off RRP. You can see a screen grab of part of a sample UK listing below, or click here to view the actual live listings themselves. The listings were recently offline for a few days while Brickset moved to a new server and the Bargain Watch system underwent maintenance, but I'm delighted to report that the system is now back up and running and listings are once again being generated. The UK and US price data are currently updated every 4 hours, so if you visit regularly you should hopefully catch the best deals before they sell out.
Brickset hosts the bulk of the Bargain Watch listings, which capture, rank and list the best LEGO deals to be found on Amazon's sites in France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Canada, as well as in the UK and US. These more comprehensive country-specific listings can be filtered in various different ways, for instance by theme. In addition, because Amazon ship overseas, there's also the facility to compare prices across all of Amazon's EU websites to look for the best deals (sample screen grab below, or just click here to view the actual live listing); this listing can also be filtered by theme so you can quickly focus in on the themes you're most interested in. The icing on the cake are alerts which appear on the Brickset homepage when sets are newly discounted by 30% or more from RRP.
We've been tweaking and optimising the Bargain Watch system ever since it launched, but if you have any suggestions for how the system can be further improved then please send me an e-mail or post a comment below; similarly, if there are sets which you notice are available direct from Amazon in any country but which aren't appearing on the listings then please let me know and I'll add them.