In recent years Cyber Monday has become somewhat of an extension of a week of Black Friday promotions following the American Thanksgiving holiday. Shoppers have more choice – and more chances to save – than ever before. But doing so can take work. And scoring a great deal can’t be the only goal when you sit down at your computer, credit card in hand. With this being the worst time of year for identity theft and computer fraud, you need to stay safe as well.
Below are some tips we’ve gathered for a successful Cyber Monday shopping experience!
- Bookmark your favourite retailers’ websites
Bookmarking helps you stay organized when planning your shopping and is particularly useful if you’re looking for holiday gifts for multiple people, to efficiently compare deals on similar products. And to get a sense of what will be most steeply discounted, it’s a good idea to Google previous years’ sales by the same retailers. While deals will vary from year to year, you can make quite reliable predictions, given that electronics, clothing and apparel, and cosmetics are all Cyber Monday stalwarts.
- Follow retailers on social media
This can be the best way to stay up to date on late breaking retail promotions. Twitter can be a worthwhile place to look for information about time-limited deals and sales on specific products or product categories. Facebook is better for highly targeted, hopefully relevant offers. Once you follow a retailer’s Facebook page and browse their website with cookies enabled, you’ll likely notice Facebook ads for products like those you’ve already viewed. Pinterest and Instagram are great for visual shoppers who want to see the products they’re considering in context before they buy, but not ideal for deal-hunting, given their brevity.
- Research shipping and return policies and fees
Many retailers offer free shipping on Cyber Monday, even if they don’t at other times of year. So unless you have no alternate options for the product you’re considering, you can hold pretty steadfastly to the expectation of free shipping. But make sure that you investigate the return policies as well, and call customer support if they’re unclear online. Any lurking return shipping charges and restocking fees can eat into your potential refund or store credit if you end up regretting your purchase.
- Set and stick to a firm budget (avoid upselling)
If you aim to be a savvy shopper this Cyber Monday, you may need to use some self restraint to avoid the lure of add ons or upselling to premium versions of your chosen item(s). And as today is a day of deals, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll be swamped by such offers. As a general rule of thumb, keep your holiday shopping budget on the conservative side. Because try as you might, there’s a good chance you’ll overshoot your projected spending.
- Avoid sites with poor security practices
Don’t gamble with your identity. Stay away from retail sites with questionable security practices. You should never enter credit card information on pages that don’t begin with an “https” prefix in the URL. This indicates SSL — an encryption protocol that makes it much more difficult for credit card information and personal data to be compromised during transactions. And if you’re shopping on a mobile device, download your favorite retailers’ verified apps too. Apps downloaded from legitimate sources, such as the Google or Apple Play Stores, are much less likely to pose threats.
- Shop in incognito or private mode
Cookies stored on your computer when you browse retail sites can affect the deals or prices that you’re later shown. Shopping in incognito mode isn’t a foolproof way to mask your identity to retailers, but it can make you eligible for deals not available to someone with your browsing or purchasing history.