Here’s how you can save money and get the best deals.
Cyber Monday is here. With the global pandemic dragging on and many people avoiding crowds, Black Friday was a big let-down for most retailers. They’re banking on Cyber Monday to help them get into the black, and willing to offer you a deal to help it along.
What is Cyber Monday?
Simply put, Cyber Monday is the online equivalent of Black Friday. Cyber Monday is the first Monday after Thanksgiving. It was first created in 2005 when retail groups noticed that there was a sharp uptick in online sales following the Black Friday shopping weekend. As many as 77 percent of stores reported a flood of shoppers after workers returned to the office from their holiday weekend.
Retailers began capitalizing on the phenomena, offering promotions and discounts to further increase customers.
The event has grown every year and has also become a great way for smaller stores to compete with the giant retailers who used to dominate the online shopping arena. Nearly every store has a website these days and if a smaller retailer can rank high enough in search engines to be discovered by shoppers, they stand to make a profit.
How to find the best deals on Cyber Monday
If you’re looking to get your Christmas shopping done on Cyber Monday, it’s best to have a plan. Here are ten tips on how to make the most out of your Cyber Monday shopping experience:
1. Check the price history
Just because something says it’s a Cyber Monday deal, doesn’t mean it’s actually a discount. Some retailers will intentionally mark up the original price to make it look like you’re getting a deal. A book that normally sells at $6.99, for example, may suddenly say it is marked down from $9.99 even though it was never actually listed for that amount. Do a search for “price tracking tools” or “price alerts” and use one of these typically free services to help you make sure you aren’t getting scammed with a fake “sale”.
2. Comparison shop
You may be surprised at the difference in sales prices from one store to another. The item you are looking for may be a “loss leader” at one particular store, that is, an item that is intentionally marked way down to encourage you to visit the site and hopefully purchase other items. If you have a specific item in mind, do a search by that item and “shopping” or download an app or browser extension that helps you compare prices. Also be aware that on some sites the price is increased to make up the cost for free shipping, so an item that is less expensive may end up being more expensive in the long run once you add in the shipping charges.
3. Make a list and a budget
It’s easy to get caught up in the sale and discount frenzy. Make a list of the things you want to purchase and stick to it. Avoid the temptation to pick up extra things you don’t need just because it looks like a good price. Use your debit card instead of your credit card to make sure you don’t overspend. Your checking account will thank you.
4. Look for coupons or discount codes
Many online stores will send you a discount coupon code if you sign up for their mailing list. You can sometimes find a valid discount code on shopping websites as well. Whether it’s free shipping or 10% off, it pays to take the extra time to look for coupons and codes.
5. Follow your favorite stores on social media
Some retailers will offer “flash sales” or special discount codes exclusively to their followers on social media. Give your favorites a “follow” on Twitter or Instagram and keep your eyes peeled for any posts on Cyber Monday. You may also want to search hashtags for specific items to see if someone is posting about getting a good deal on that items on a site you haven’t visited.
6. Make checking out easier
Every time you make a purchase you need to fill in the same information: your name, shipping address and payment information. Make the process faster by enabling autofill on your computer or using payment apps like PayPal and Apple Pay. If you know for sure that you will be making a purchase with a particular retailer, set up your account with them ahead of time to make checking out quicker.
7. Check out the delivery estimate
Many a Cyber Monday shopper has been disappointed to see that the item they purchased won’t arrive in time for Christmas. Just because something is listed as a “Cyber Monday deal”, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily in stock or going to arrive quickly. Watch out for items that are shipped from overseas, a common occurrence with retailers that use drop shipping. If the item is not in the same country as you, it likely will not make it to you in time for the holiday. If timely delivery is important to you, don’t take a chance.
8. Look for free shipping
We have all gotten spoiled with the availability of liberal free shipping options on mega retailers like Amazon and Walmart. But they are not the only free shipping game in town. Most retailers offer free shipping with minimum purchase requirements. Shipping can easily add $10 or more to your order, so it’s worth it to make your purchase from a retailer that will hook you up with free shipping.
9. Support small independent creators
You can get more unique gifts by targeting your shopping searches on sites that support independent creators. Sites like Etsy, Go Imagine, and Amazon Handmade feature beautiful and unique hand-crafted gifts that are generally high quality and reasonably priced. Use your money to support individual small businesses instead of billionaires.
10. Use rewards programs
Many retailers offer rewards programs that include points or discounts towards purchases. If you are a member of frequent customer or mileage program, check out their loyalty websites. Shopping through your rewards portals will earn you additional miles and bonus points that you can use later for a trip or hotel stay. If you have accrued points with loyalty programs, consider cashing some in to reduce the price of your purchase.
Don’t get caught up in the Cyber Monday frenzy. There are definitely good deals to be had, but try to keep your emotions out of it. Make a plan, shop carefully and be sure to read all the fine print to make sure you get the best deals and don’t have buyer’s remorse later on. Happy shopping!