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6 things you should buy on Amazon—and how to find the lowest prices

Employees work at the Amazon fulfillment center in Kent, Washington, October 24, 2018. 
Lindsey Wasson | Reuters

The rise of Amazon has made it easier than ever to shop from home and still score great deals. But, depending on what you're looking for, buying from Amazon is not always the best bet. Sometimes what you want will be available for less somewhere else.

CNBC Make It spoke with shopping experts who shared which items are almost always cheaper on Amazon than from a competitor, and they offered advice on how to make smart choices, find great deals and save money during the holiday season — and any time.

Read on for six items they say are usually worth purchasing on Amazon, as well as five ways to find the lowest prices on everything on your list.

Amazon's own hardware

If you're in the market for a Kindle, Fire Stick or Alexa-enabled device, Amazon should be your first stop. "Anything that Amazon makes on its own, they're going to have the best price for it," Tom's Guide deals editor Louis Ramirez tells CNBC Make It.

Sara Skirboll, shopping expert at RetailMeNot, agrees. "First and foremost, you should always look at Amazon-branded products," she says. "You're going to find great deals."

You can find even lower prices if you're willing to purchase a certified refurbished product. These items are pre-owned, but have been inspected and tested by Amazon's experts to make sure they're good as new.

Televisions

Especially during the holiday season, Amazon is a great place to find a new TV at a discount, Skirboll says.

One reason the site is able to offer such low prices is because it has such a wide reach. "Amazon's definitely a leading retailer, and they have the resources and the ability to connect with so many different manufacturers," Skirboll says. "They're so, so big and they have all of these connections."

Kitchen appliances

Ramirez recommends checking Amazon for small kitchen appliances, such as Instant Pots, air fryers or Cuisinart cookware.

While you can find good deals on these products at places like Walmart or Target, too, Ramirez says, "Amazon's basically trying to undercut everyone," so even if you find a low price at another retailer, check Amazon, because there's a strong chance it has either matched the deal or at least slashed its price by a few bucks.

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Clothing

Amazon, which recently emerged as a dominant force in the clothing market, is expected to exceed $30 billion in apparel and footwear sales by the end of the year, outperforming Walmart as the top clothing retailer in the U.S.

That translates to deep discounts for customers. You can find significant markdowns on name-brand products, including Calvin Klein, New Balance, Lacoste and Hugo Boss, Skirboll says.

Groceries

"Amazon is making a big push on food items lately," Ramirez says, particularly for Prime users.

Before heading to Whole Foods, which Amazon purchased in 2017, check for coupons online and to see if Amazon is offering any specific deals or kickbacks for Prime members.

Toys

"Everyone's trying to get a piece of the toy puzzle this year with Toys R Us out of the picture," Skirboll says. Amazon is no exception.

The site is promoting its selection by putting out a catalog and offering significant discounts. For the holiday season, customers can find up to 40 percent off on popular brands, including Barbie and Hot Wheels, Skirbolls reports.

Amazon's basically trying to undercut everyone.
Louis Ramirez
deals editor, Tom's Guide

When it comes to online shopping, though, nothing is guaranteed. Here are five general guidelines to follow to make sure you're always getting great deals.

Use Google Shopping to compare prices

"One of major things I always say is don't shop all at one store," Ramirez says. "Amazon's great for deals. Walmart's great for deals. Best Buy's great for deals. But none of them are the best store for deals. "

Before buying anything online, Ramirez recommends doing a quick search on Google Shopping. The search engine will bring up prices for the item from a multitude of retailers.

Price comparison is the No. 1 thing you can do to ensure you're getting a good deal. "It all comes down to doing your research," Skirboll says. "Always triple check."

Try CamelCamelCamel

If you're shopping specifically at Amazon, Ramirez recommends CamelCamelCamel. When you drop in an Amazon link, the price-tracking website will pull up a chart of the item's historical prices.

Although it doesn't compare how prices vary outside of Amazon, it's a helpful way to know if the price you're looking at is generally high or low. "You can know, 'Oh, this was $10 cheaper last July,' or you'll see that this is absolutely the lowest price you can get right now," Ramirez says.

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Look for perks

When comparing retailers, make sure you're not simply comparing sticker prices. Be on the lookout for other perks, such as cash-back, free shipping or a $10 gift card with purchase.

"In this day and age, retailers drive business by focusing their efforts on releasing promotions like these, so it's really in the customer's best interest to make sure they have something before they check out," Skirboll says.

Going into the holiday season, almost every major retailer will be offering something, so keep your eyes open. "Don't check out unless you have a deal, especially a free shipping code," Skirboll says. "There are so many opportunities to save money, it doesn't make sense right now to spend money without saving."

Know the competition

"No matter what store you're shopping at, always look at that store's competitiors to see what prices they have," Ramirez says.

For Amazon products, that typically means taking a few minutes to browse Walmart, Best Buy and Target for lower prices. The item you're looking for might be cheaper somewhere else.

"If you find something on Amazon and it looks like a good deal, always check with one of those stores to make sure that they're not undercutting Amazon," Ramirez says.

Use a browser extension

Installing a browser extension such as Honey or RetailMeNot's Genie is a win-win: It takes almost no effort on your part and can help you save by pulling in coupons and promo codes from across the web.

If you're using a desktop, "always make sure that you have a browser extension to help you find the best deals," Skirboll says. "It's going to automatically pull in coupons, cashback offers, any way for you to save money on the spot at checkout."

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Employees work at the Amazon fulfillment center in Kent, Washington, October 24, 2018. 
Lindsey Wasson | Reuters
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