With the shortest holiday shopping season ever approaching – only 25 days in between Thanksgiving and Christmas – now is as good a time as any to start getting ahead on your holiday shopping list.
One of my favorite ways to get ahead is by taking advantage of Cyber Monday: the Monday following Thanksgiving where online retailers offer exceptional bargains to persuade customers to shop their sites. And it offers more than just sales! Cyber Monday lets you to beat the long lines, hectic parking lots, and holiday crowds by shopping from home, work, or my favorite – from bed!
As a mother of three and founder of the popular daily deal site, STEALS.com, I’ve dedicated my life to finding the best deals for both myself as well as my customers. Here are some of my favorite and most-useful Cyber Monday shopping tips I’ve collected from over the years, to help you save time and money this holiday season:
Make a List: Avoid approaching Cyber Monday like a shopping spree. Even with deep discounts, it’s likely that you’ll make purchases outside of your regular budget. In order to prevent this, I make a list of must-have purchases ahead of time to prevent over shopping. Knowing what’s on sale and what you need to purchase this holiday season, will help you stick to your budget and reduce impulse purchases on items you don’t need.
Pre-Shop: A lot of retailers are really good at making a full priced item look like a bargain. To ensure that this doesn’t happen to you, browse through online stores over the holiday weekend to learn more about all the sales promotions and prices available. My favorite tip for finding the best sale is to sign up for your favorite retailer’s newsletter or email list weeks before the sales begin. It’s a good way to learn about special sales and to get the scoop on prices for Cyber Monday before everyone else!
Know The Rules: Each Cyber Monday offer has different guidelines about when it starts and how many items are available. Read the sale rules ahead of time to know when sales are running or if a better sale is scheduled for later or earlier in the day. Being aware of the fine details ensures that you’ll be prepared for when each sale is going to start – you wouldn’t want to sleep through the sale and miss out on a fabulous deal!
Prepare to Shop Quickly: Unlike in-store shopping, online shopping does not guarantee that the items in your cart will be there when you’re ready to check out. If you spend too much time at each site, your desired item may already be sold out. One thing I’ve noticed while shopping on Cyber Monday over the years, is that items heavily discounted will go fast! Once you see an item you want, it’s time to check-out to ensure it doesn’t sell out.
Keep an Eye on Shipping Times: When shopping online, one of your considerations will be how you will receive your order. Since many flash sale sites don’t have the items in stock, it may take longer for some sites to ship than others. Always be sure to look into the ‘cut off days’ to see how long it will take for the item to ship. And even after you learn about your estimated delivery date, make sure you still have some leeway in between then and your family gathering – added time can still be tacked on due to the high volume of the holidays.
But don’t stop here. There’s plenty more ways to save on Cyber Monday this year and beyond – the more prepared you are for the holiday, the better chance you have of saving some serious money.
Jana Francis is the founder and president of Steals.com, a network of daily deal sites offering limited-time, hard-to-find discounts on the best brands for baby, kids, women, and more, with next-day shipping and fanatical customer service year-round. She lives in Salt Lake City with her husband and three children. www.steals.com