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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Cyber Black Friday Tips

Day 313

Over the last few years, online shopping has changed Black Friday. Many stores will offer the same door-busting deals on their websites as they offer in stores. Shopping in pajamas sounds great, so why not? Well-- it doesn't always work the same. (side note: I have witnessed many Black Friday shoppers actually wearing pajamas ... to stores. C'mon people! Get dressed!)

I started serious online BF shopping two years ago. Again, I can't stress enough the importance of planning ahead. I tried purchasing items from:

  1. Best Buy
  2. Kohl's
  3. Staples
  4. Meijer
  5. Target
  6. Victoria's Secret
  7. Walmart
  8. Old Navy
I had little success with Best Buy, Target, Walmart, and Meijer. Part of the reason is the sale start times will vary. When a store states it will open at 6 a.m., it opens at 6 a.m. The same online sale may begin at 4 a.m., 2 a.m. or midnight. It pays to start early, log onto your selected sites often and attempt your doorbuster purchases. You will not be the only one attempting and the sites are notoriously slow. And, some items will be "available in store only" so be SURE to read the fine print.

I have had great success with Kohl's. Not sure how it will go this year but for the last two years I have been able to fill my online "shopping cart" in advance! Then, once the sale begins, the prices are automatically adjusted. Free shipping is often included and Kohl's does a great job with distributing  Kohl's Cash or whatever other promotion they are having. If you have ever been in a Kohl's store on BF, you know the line wraps all the way around the store so I am a big fan on Kohl's online. Victoria's Secret has started their online sale on Thursday in the past so I can make my choices early and take advantage of their offers. Old Navy seems to offer quite a bit more online than in stores but the big sales are not guaranteed. 
The PROS and CONS:
Online PROS:
  1. You can shop from home (and it's perfectly OK to be in pajamas).
  2. There are better opportunities to get good information about products (salespeople are not readily available in stores).
  3. Plan ahead by visiting the site in advance to browse.
  4. Some retailers, like Amazon, are only online.
  5. There is less chance for impulse buys.
  6. You can create online accounts with your selected sites in advance to expedite the process. You can also join their mailing lists for special offers.
Online CONS:
  1. The sites can run very slowly or even shut down.
  2. Shipping is not always free and can really add up.
  3. Returns of online purchases are not as easy and could also involve another shipping charge.
  4. You have to wait for delivery.
  5. There are many times that the online picture of the item doesn't accurately reflect the product and sizing can be a problem. You can't really feel a blanket or pillow online!
Cyber Monday: This is the Monday after Black Friday. Years ago, this was to attract the shoppers who did not go out BF or were not successful. Online retailers learned pretty quickly that they had to be in the actual BF mix so I think Cyber-Monday has become under-whelming but still worth a look. Just check your favorite online retailers sites on Cyber-Monday to see what's up.

Amazon.com Lightning Deals: Online giant Amazon doesn't wait for BF. They offer "Lightning Deals" every day, in fact they are already ongoing. These are very limited time offers with a specific number to sell. They are doing a good job creating a "shopping frenzy" but shop carefully. Sometimes the lure of a "good deal" can override our good sense. I like Amazon overall and I love the new choice in toy packaging. For many toys you can opt for "Frustration-Free Packaging" in place of regular retail packaging. 

Next up: If you do plan on going out for BF shopping ...

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