Getting the best out of Cyber Monday

 Getting the best out of Cyber Monday

In this earlier post, I gave you tips for getting the best out of Black Friday.

Shopping online, of course, is very different from shopping in brick and mortar stores.

Well, hold up there…I do think it is becoming more similar in recent years.  People do shop on Black Friday in the stores in their pyjamas.  :)  Since people have SmartPhones with shopping apps, they can also comparison shop in the physical stores.  They can scan a UPC, and be told that the item is fifty dollars cheaper .4 miles away.

Still, it’s not the same.

Cyber Monday is the Monday following Thanksgiving (in the United States)…and following Black Friday.  Originally (I believe in 2005), what was happening was that people were shopping at work (where they had faster internet connections).  Now, many people have just as fast or faster connections at home…and companies have gotten smarter about detecting and how to prevent shopping in the office.  I don’t think that’s necessarily wise on the part of the employers, but that’s for another post.

You can get some great bargains online…and be totally ripped off as well.  If you buy something from a local store, you can probably return it there…they don’t just disappear before you can get back to them.  Websites (and individual sellers) might do just that…or might be in another country and outside of your law enforcement jurisdiction.

Here are some tips:

1. Know your sites. 

Don’t count on a smaller site having a better deal than a well-known one.  Most sites will have an “About us” link of some kind.  You can check that to see how long they’ve been in business (at least sometimes).  Check http://www.wikipedia.org …if there is a listing and the article has been there for a while, that can be a good sign

2. Check the shipping costs.

This is really key…I often see great deals…and then the shipping and handling are more than the item!  You can get used books for a penny on Amazon…but you’ll usually pay $3.49 for shipping from these third parties.

3. Check the processing and shipping time. 

Some sites are getting the things you are buying from someone else, or making them to order.  If you are calculating days, that’s usually business days.  In the US, business days do not count Saturdays, Sundays, or holidays.  Also, the shipping time starts from when they ship it…not when you order it.  Maybe they can ship it in two business days…but it takes them two weeks before they start the shipping

4. Don’t hesitate. 

Online deals may only last seconds.  Know what price you want to pay, know that the store is okay…and go for it.  If there is a way to set up a quick checkout, do it.  Log into the site before you start shopping

5. Use comparison shopping sites. 

These let you put an item into their site, and they’ll compare the prices at different websites.  Many of them include the shipping (but you may have to enter your zipcode for them to figure that out).  They won’t have all the sites, but you’ll get a good idea.

I’ve used

http://www.pricegrabber.com/ 

for years.

I also have used

http://shopping.yahoo.com

6. Use coupon sites

This also really useful.  Many online sites have coupon codes that will give you an additional discount…or free shipping.  They may only be good above certain amounts on a purchase and/or only at a specific time, as well as on specific items.  You may have to enter the code at checkout.  Be careful about that.  If the coupon code doesn’t work, you are going to have some trouble dealing with it later.  Call the store if you have trouble…most reputable stores have a phone number listed on the site, but not all.  That’s another thing you can check ahead of time.  If you used your credit card, you may be able to go to your credit card company for help if you were defrauded.  You can usually search by store and sometimes by item.  The listing at the coupon site may not be up to date.

http://www.couponmountain.com

http://www.fatwallet.com/

7. Check return policies

Does your return period start from when you buy it?  If you buy it a month ahead of time, will it have expired before you give it?  That should be listed at the site

8. Is it a pre-order?  Do they guarantee the price?

That’s an issue…it’s hard to tell on a website, sometimes, that the product isn’t actually available yet.  Read the description.  If it is a pre-order, do they guarantee the price, or will you pay more if it goes up in-between?

9. Don’t ignore the people who always discount

If a place is cheap all year round, it may still be cheaper on Cyber Monday than a place with a special sale.  For example,

http://www.woot.com

has a special deal every day…yes, one special deal.  They will sell out

10. Check at odd times of the day

A lot of sales are only for an hour, and they are selling around the world.  Check before you go to bed and when you get up

There are a few tips for you.  :)  Here is a basic strategy:

  1. Identify online websites you trust and want to use
  2. Get sizes and compatibilities from your giftees…what videogame system they use, for example
  3. Check the coupon sites.  Copy the codes (write them down or paste them into a document
  4. Check comparison sites for specific items
  5. Sign up at the sites where you shop…you may be sent exclusive coupons.  Check their Twitter feeds and Facebook site
  6. Check your sites for information on upcoming specials…some of them hype them ahead of time
  7. Log into a site and set up any speed buying options they have
  8. If you see your items at a price you want, get them right away

Consider how you will give the gift if it isn’t something physical…a picture of it in a card can be cool.

Be careful also with digital gifts (downloads, which can be e-books, songs, movies, and so on) because they may deliver immediately.  If you get it a week early, so might your recipient.

By the way, you may hear about

http://www.ruelala.com/

this year.  Someone else has to invite you to join, but it reportedly has really good deals.

Oh, and I haven’t mentioned auction sites, like http://www.ebay.com .  Honestly, I’m a little leery of those, although they are now a significant part of our economy.  My concern is stolen items…it does happen…you usually have some recourse, but it’s complicated to try to resolve it at the holidays. 

This is the official Cyber Monday site:

http://www.cybermonday.com/

How can there be an official site?  Shop.org made up the name. 🙂

Do you have any special sites you like, or tips?  Feel free to comment on this post.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle. 

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