This month features two of the biggest sales days of the year – Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, has become increasingly difficult to shop every year, due to enormous crowds. Three days later, however, you can avoid the lines and score some great savings from the comfort of your couch on Cyber Monday. But just because you won’t have to fight for merchandise in the aisles, your success on this stay-at-home shopping day will require a little prep work. More than 60 percent of American consumers are expected to shop online this Cyber Monday. Many shoppers will be ready to pounce on deals via smartphones, tablets and computers, so you’ll likely face some fierce competition to get the sale items you want. Here are 8 Cyber Monday shopping tips to help you score some great deals on Monday, November 27.
Make a Detailed List
Put a list together of everything you plan to buy and who you are buying for. A list will help you focus on what you want or need, and prevent impulse buys. If you’re holiday shopping, make sure to talk to your friends or family for gift ideas in advance so you know what to look for.
Set a Budget
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of Cyber Monday, so it’s a good idea to outline a budget to help prevent spending more than you can afford. If you are looking to buy holiday gifts for friends and family, make sure you know how much you can comfortably spend on each person ahead of time.
Plot Your Shopping Plan
Many stores will advertise their big Cyber Monday deals weeks before the big sales day. A quick internet search of your favorite stores should give you a good idea of what items will be discounted and when. Most retailers also have mailing lists that notify their customers about upcoming deals. Details about their Cyber Monday sales will definitely be in these newsletters, so make sure to join store mailing lists in advance to get the scoop.
Another good way to find out about sales is by following popular bloggers on social media. Many companies send them advance notifications of sales so they can share them with their followers and get people excited about Cyber Monday.
Once you know what will be on sale, figure out what online retail stores you want to shop and what products you want to buy on Cyber Monday. Bookmark the store websites and product pages in advance and set reminders on your phone for sales that start at specific times, so you won’t miss an opportunity to purchase a discounted product with low inventory. Popular items or products with steep discounts will sell fast, so you’ll need to know exactly where to go and when to get the items you want.
Just because you discover a product you want will be on sale for Cyber Monday doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t find a lower price at another retailer. Take time to compare prices and don’t get caught up in the excitement of scoring the first great deal. Many sites like pricegrabber.com make comparing prices a snap. You also need to factor in shipping costs as they will vary by retailer. If you plan on getting multiples items from one site, check to see if they offer deals like free shipping if you spend a certain amount of money. Some stores also allow customers to pick up the items, instead of shipping at no charge.
Set up Store Accounts
Setting up an account on a store’s website before Cyber Monday will give you a big advantage over other shoppers. By creating an account, your name, shipping address and credit card information will already be stored in the system. You may even be able to add the items you want to your cart in advance. On Cyber Monday, you’ll just need to sign in, make sure your items are discounted and check out. You may only have seconds to purchase a discounted item before it sells out on Cyber Monday, so it’s important to give yourself the best chance.
Many stores now have Android and iOS apps for your phone or tablet that designed to make shopping easier on Cyber Monday. These apps may even contain unique deals at different times of the day. Check your cell phone or tablet, for any store apps that might interest you.
Look for Coupon Codes
Before you start buying from stores on Cyber Monday morning, check the retailer sites you plan to hit and see if they take promo code boxes in their checkout. Many stores won’t allow promo codes on Cyber Monday because of the already steep savings offered, but some might. Look for coupons on sites like RetailMeNot and Groupon to see if you can save additional money.
Review Return Policies and Save Receipts
Check all store policies in advance as each retailer will have different rules. If you aren’t allowed to return or exchange certain products, you may want to consider shopping elsewhere, especially if you are buying gifts.
More and more retailers have become strict in their receipt requirements for returns and exchanges. Knowing the store policies can save you a headache if you need to send an item back. Keep an electronic record of your purchases by having retailers email all order confirmations or receipts sent to the same email address. Create a folder in your email named “receipts” or “gifts” for future reference. If you prefer physical documentation, print receipts when they show up on screen by clicking on an on-screen Print button or by using the command PrtSc or Ctrl + P. If you are buying gifts, remember to get gift receipts for each item. Gift receipts make returns or exchanges easier for the gift recipient. They include a description of the item, but not the price, and can be placed inside a gift box.
The last thing you want on Cyber Monday is to see your computer compromised by malware. Make sure you have a security program like Norton Anti-Virus or Malwarebytes on your computer.
When purchasing online, always look for the HTTPS lock symbol in your browser address window to make sure the site is secure. When you set up store accounts do not use the same password for every site. Passwords should contain a mix of upper- and lower-case characters, numbers and symbols.
If you plan to use your tablet or smartphone to shop on Cyber Monday, use a trusted vendor’s app instead of the web browser. Always download from your mobile device’s official store, such as Apple’s App Store or the Google Play Store. Don’t ever download via the browser.
It’s important to take these precautions as many hackers will be looking to take advantage of shoppers on Cyber Monday. Don’t put the your personally identifiable information, credit-card numbers, bank accounts and other data at risk.