Savvy Christmas Shopping: Cyber Monday

by | Nov. 27, 2010


Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday refers to the Monday following Thanksgiving, a day that many online retailers report a significant increase in sales. (One theory is that people are back at work but are Christmas shopping from their computers, but now there are just as many online deals on Cyber Monday to attract shoppers as there are on Black Friday.) A few simple methods will help you enjoy the perks—access to several shops at once, lower prices, specialty items—over the perils of online shopping.

Do Your Homework

Unlike stores, which we can usually count on to give reliable service, online stores can be tricky. Without a physical location, it can be harder to track down a representative if you have a concern.

Read up on the store before buying. Some online stores are trusted because we are already familiar with them, like amazon.com or overstock.com. But with smaller companies it is better to read reviews and ratings first and make sure there is contact information in case there is a problem with your purchase.

Carefully read return policies. Understanding a store’s return policy can make all the difference in a good shopping experience. The policy should be posted clearly on their website; if you have any questions you should contact the company by e-mail or phone. Check if the store will offer a refund, not just an exchange, for an item that you return. Also, find out if they pay the shipping charges for returns—if this isn’t their policy, think twice about buying something that might need to be exchanged, like clothes.

Exclusive Online Offers

Many shopping websites offer exclusive deals to attract the customers that would otherwise be hitting their local malls. On Thanksgiving night, keep your eyes open for “Night Owl Offers”—the online version of Early Bird Specials that entice you to start shopping even before Black Friday begins. Because online companies don’t have as many overhead costs, they are able to price their items lower than most stores.

By subscribing to a favorite store’s newsletter, you can also receive special previews of sales and extra coupons. If you are looking for coupons for several stores, you might want to look at websites like currentcodes.com. These sites will give you special codes to enter into the website as you make your purchase, codes which can offer anything from discounts on products to free shipping. They also offer online coupons that can sometimes be used online and in stores.

Side by Side

Don’t just fill up your shopping cart with the first “good deal” that you see. One website might offer the item for a lower price but charge a shipping fee, while another might have the same item for more but with free shipping. Some websites provide price comparisons (like shopping.com and shopzilla.com), but make sure you factor in all costs (like service fees and shipping). Also, buying at a company that doesn’t have a physical location in your state means that you avoid paying sales tax and can save 6 to 8 percent!

Escape Daunting Delivery Fees

When shopping online, people often think they’ve found a great deal—until confronted with that final page that tells them the shipping costs. However, during the holidays many companies offer attractive free shipping offers; find out how to qualify. And make sure you know all the products you want from a store before you buy! Especially at stores that have a flat shipping rate, like gap.com, it can be expensive and frustrating to make more than one order.

Pay close attention to shipping policies. Most online stores will tell you the date for the last day to use standard shipping and still have the item arrive before Christmas. If you’ve missed the date, check out our ideas for last-minute shoppers!

*Do you know of any helpful Cyber Monday tips? Leave a comment below.
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