Cyber Monday: How To Avoid Online Shopping Pitfalls
39. Create A Spreadsheet With Sales Information
Know your organizational system when you start looking at Cyber Monday deals. Once you notice a sale for an item on your list, place this item into a spreadsheet on your computer with a link.
Through your spreadsheet, you can run through the items you are getting on Cyber Monday quickly. Many stores will only have specific deals for so long, such as four to six hours, or there is a limited number of items for sale. You’ll want to make sure to note this information so you know when to purchase these items.
38. Rise Early On Cyber Monday
Just because you can shop on your phone or computer doesn’t mean you don’t need to pay attention to the time. Most retail stores will have their Cyber Monday deals for 24 hours, and you might feel this gives you a lot of time.
Many people treat Cyber Monday like Black Friday. They will go on the website as soon as the sale starts and purchase all the items they need quickly. Stores will only have a certain number of items and waiting until 11:00 A.M. because you wanted to sleep in might mean you lose out on good sales.
37. Shop In Private Mode As Anonymously As Possible
While setting your browser in private mode, using gift cards, and following other safety procedures is not a foolproof way to secure your identity, all the measures you take will help. Using private mode can also help hide your shopping history from several people.
You will be amazed at what retail stores know about people who shop online with them. You might not want anyone to see this information, and private mode will help with this. It can also help you if you need to do a little shopping while you are supposed to work.
36. Resist Add-Ons
That extra set of nail polish for your niece or the game for an additional $5 off if you add it to your cart sounds excellent. However, hitting “add to cart” for add-ons can make you go over your budget quickly. You always need to remember to stick to your budget.
Retails stores have more add-on specials on Cyber Monday as they make more money this way. It takes a lot of self-discipline to become a successful Cyber Monday shopper, but this is what you want to do to ensure you don’t go over your budget.
35. Research Shipping Fees
The majority of retailers will offer free shipping on all orders through Cyber Monday (somedays earlier), as this will bring more people into their store. Because there are so many stores that offer free shipping, it’s advised you stay away from retail businesses that have you pay for shipping.
If you do feel that you want or need an item and the store does not offer free shipping, look at how much you will pay for shipping. Ask yourself if it is feasible or if you should look for the same item at a store that offers free shipping.
34. Stay Patient
When we shop, especially when our time is limited, we tend to throw our patience out the window. We want the items on our shipping list now because they are the best deals we will find, right? Wrong. You might find a better deal if you continue to have patience.
When you feel the need to “hurry up,” take a breath and make sure you are looking at every detail of the item and the sale. Take a step back and analyze how much you really need the item, especially if it’s not on your list.
33. Remember The Smaller Stores
Cyber Monday deals used to be for the bigger stores. Part of the reason for this is because many smaller retail stores did not have a website established for their business. However, now, most companies have some type of online store and will take advantage of Cyber Monday.
Look beyond your regular online stores and think of other local stores. Do a bit of research and keep your options open when it comes to looking at new stores. Compare prices, items, and note what type of quality the store displays. Sometimes, you can save money by shopping at small stores.
32. Do Research Before Cyber Monday
The research might take time, but it will help you in the long run. You can go to your favorite retail websites to check out their deals, or browse several websites that will do most of the research of the work for you and let you know the results, such as what sales are online for you and when.
One mistake many Cyber Monday shoppers make is ignoring the Back Friday websites for deals because they don’t think the sites have Cyber Monday deals, but they do. Digitaltrends.com and techradar.com are a couple of great Cyber Monday websites.
31. Loyalty Programs Give You Great Deals
Loyalty programs are available to members of a retail store. One of the great benefits of loyalty programs is you will get information about deals before anyone else. Sometimes, you can even shop before other customers.
Loyalty programs will also give members exclusive deals, such as another 5% off your total purchase or a particular item. You might get extra coupons, a monthly sales list, and any other benefits the store feels necessary. Loyalty programs are a great way to stay up-to-date on the happenings of your favorite retail store.
30. Don’t Use A Search Engine For Your Shopping Research
Sometimes shoppers don’t know exactly where to look to find the best deals for an item, so they will do a quick Google search to find the best deals. However, hackers and scammers know their way around the primary search engines and you can quickly become a target.
Instead of using Google, think about what retail stores, such as Walmart, Target, and Best Buy, would have your item and search within the store’s website. It is harder for people to scam or hack into these types of sites because they have strong security.
29. Purchase Items From Sites With Good Security
You might find it frustrating when you need to enter your password multiple times before completing a purchase or have to go through other security measures, but this is a lot better than someone stealing your identity.
You can also use a web browser if you don’t already, which will alert you of a website that doesn’t have active security measures. This tip will allow you to know what sites are compromised, which increases your chances of identity theft. If you shop on your phone, check to see if your favorite retailer has an app.
28. If You Need To Create An Account, Use A Unique Password
You’ve heard this before and you’ll hear it again, but creating a unique password will help keep you protected from hackers, especially if you need to set up your account around Cyber Monday. While it is a pain to remember all your passwords, it is less of a pain than dealing with identity theft.
There are many passwords that you can use, and it’s never a bad idea to create a list of passwords. You can use the names of your animals or a mix of letters and numbers. There are also password manager apps that can help you.
27. Throw Any Email Attachments About Cyber Monday In The Virtual Trash
You might have already received a large number of emails about Cyber Monday deals. Most of these contain malware and are from scammers or hackers looking for a quick payday. The best step to take with any email that talks about Cyber Monday, unless it is from your trusted store, is to delete them.
The attachments that have PDF or Microsoft Word documents are highly suspicious. Every email from a store should have a link to their website. But you don’t want to click the link. Instead, you want to type it directly into your URL.
26. Look At All Of The Items On Your List
People often think that Cyber Monday is the best day to buy some of the more essential items you or someone else needs, such as a new dishwasher or television. These items are relatively cheap on Cyber Monday, and you don’t have to pay for shipping, which saves you even more money.
It is important to remember that stores place several items on their Cyber Monday list. You might find that the little jewelry box your cousin wants is 50% off. Look closely at all the items so you don’t miss something smaller than you need.
25. Don’t Forget About Coupon Tools
There are many apps that you can download to your phone that will allow you to save extra money on your Cyber Monday purchases. All you need to do is make sure that the retail store will accept the coupon code during their Cyber Monday deals.
Another benefit of the coupon tools is the apps will let you compare prices without going from retailer to retailer. This online shopping tip can cut down on your research time and allow you to focus on getting organized. Not only do you want to check out the store’s app, but also Flipp, ShopKick, and ShopSavvy.
24. Sign Up For Your Favorite Retailer’s Newsletter
You might not believe that stores still have newsletters, but most do. Retailers will usually place their deals before they start in their newsletters. To sign up for most retailers, all you need to do is submit your email to them, and you are good to go. It takes about 5 seconds and is free.
Newsletters will not only give you the best sales for the Cyber Monday but the holiday season. Some retailers will provide you with links to take you directly to the item on sale. This idea helps when it comes to searching for the best Christmas presents.
23. Never Give Out Extra Information
No retail store needs to know your social security number or your security questions and answers. If you are on a website and they start asking for information that most retail sites do not, you are most likely on a scammers website and need to get out immediately.
Think about how functional the information you are giving pertains to the website. Once you are on the scammer’s website, it is easy for them to get into your information. No one needs to know or should be asking about any of your contacts or if you have a camera.
22. Know Your Deal Breakers
There are many items on your list that have more than one version. For example, if you have a fit bit on your list, you can choose one that has all the features or one that has the features you need. Knowing what you need and what you can do without it is essential when you are shopping.
If you find that you need to have the best, you will get the latest version and save very little money. However, if you only need half of the features, you might get the version released two years ago and save money.
21. Check Your Shopping List Twice
You have already created your list and went over it. You might even know where some of the best deals are for your items. But what you haven’t done is what we tell kids Santa does and check your list twice.
Checking your list twice is like preparing for your online shopping adventure. You can go from site-to-site and look for the item. Take time to read about the item again, including all the small print and make sure you have found the return policies just in case.
20. Compare Prices Before You Buy
It’s easy to fall into the trap of saving money. You see that the item you need is 25% off at one store, so you buy it. You then go to your next online shipping retail store and see the same item is 30% off.
Keep yourself from this frustrating experience by doing your research and compare prices before Cyber Monday. Stores will usually give you plenty of time to look over their deals, which allows you to price compare and note which store holds the best deal.
19. Sometimes Abandoning Your Cart Helps Get More Deals
You will be amazed at how many retail stores pay attention to, especially when it comes to customers. Through their websites, stores can pay attention to what type of items are selling the most, and when people abandon their carts.
Place a few items into your cart and then close your browser for a few hours. You might find an email from the store with the subject heading, “We see you forgot something in your cart.” Store want to ensure you use them for your buying needs so that this email can include a code for an extra 10% off.
18. Don’t Forget About Tuesday or Wednesday
Some people feel that Cyber Monday is limited to one day, but it isn’t necessarily true. Some stores will start earlier, close to a week early. Other stores will have different deals after Cyber Monday as they want to get rid of some items for good.
Take some time on Tuesday, Wednesday, and the rest of the week to continue your shopping. Don’t be surprised if you find that some items are cheaper now compared to Cyber Monday. This notion happens, especially when retail stores need to get rid of extra items.
17. Shop From A Secure Computer Or Your Phone
One of the biggest concerns for online shoppers on Cyber Monday is hackers and identity theft. There is a good reason for this because hackers are prepared when it comes to Cyber Monday. They know there are a lot of unsuspecting people, and hackers are ready to attack.
Hackers can be anywhere from snooping around a library looking for someone putting in their card information to working remotely. One of the best steps you can take is to shop from a secure computer. This idea might mean you don’t meet your friend in a public place to Cyber Monday shop together.
16. Set Up Price Alerts
No matter how much you want to be on your phone or computer all day researching the best deals, it is not possible. You have a job, a family, errands to run, etc. Like most people, you are incredibly busy and might not have time to check prices or do your daily research at the end of the day.
If it is an option, sign up for price alerts. You will automatically receive notification through email or text message if there is a change in price. One of the best and secure sites for price alerts is SlickDeals.
15. Start Your Holiday Shopping List Early
You might already do this, especially if you start your holiday shopping early. But many people wait until the last minute to begin putting their list together. Starting your holiday shopping list early can help you stay on budget, get an early start, and know precisely what you need during Cyber Monday.
Most retail stores will start advertising their Cyber Monday deals at least a couple of weeks before the big day. This idea will allow you to compare prices and give you a chance to find alternatives for the popular items on your list.
14. Always Look For Other Discounts
There are discounts, no matter where you go when it comes to Cyber Monday deals. People prepare a lot of discounts from a decrease in prices to additional coupons and other services as businesses will make more money when their customers save more money.
One of the best tools to help you find other discounts is a browser extension known as Rakuten. It will let you know when there are other deals when you visit a website. All you need to do to activate the deal is to click it and you are good to go.
13. Watch Out For The Too-Good-To-Be-True Deal
Unfortunately, some Cyber Monday deals are too good to be true. They are also easy deals to fall for, leaving you in a direct path of a scammer. Cybercriminals know that Cyber Monday is a huge day and they can get away with a lot of money.
The most significant things you want to watch out for are emails, pop-up advertisements, and text messages. The main targets are social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, as people are used to pop-up ads that are real. Be aware of clicking any links as they can lead you to harmful websites.
12. Know Return and Exchange Policies
Every store is different when it comes to their return and exchange policies. The store might have different policies for Cyber Monday, which means you need to know what you are getting yourself into before you purchase any item.
You can find the return and exchange policy information directly on the website or by calling the store. To keep them close by, you can include the news in your spreadsheet. This Cyber Monday tip will allow you quick access and keep you from confusing one store’s policy with another store.
11. Prepare Your Checkout Process Ahead Of Time
While adding the items into your cart might not be an option, you can always do what you can to prepare your check out. If you are using gift cards or another card to make your purchases, you can place the numbers into your account to make the process quicker.
You can also use a tool to help make the check out process more secure. One device is known as Token, which generates a one-time use number when you shop. It can connect to pretty much any bank account in the United States and is easily accessible with Chrome Extension.
10. Bookmark Your Favorite Retail Websites
You should start researching for Cyber Monday deals a couple of weeks before the big day. This online shopping tip will allow you to find the best deals and even new retail stores. If you haven’t shopped at a store before, but discover something on your list, bookmark that website so you can quickly go back to it.
You might decide to not shop at that store for several reasons, but having each retail site bookmarked will allow you to compare prices and deals so you can save the most money and remain in your budget.
9. Use Past Years As Sales Guidance
Even if this is your first-year Cyber Monday shopping, you can use your shopping past as guidance to give you the best shopping experience. You may also research previous Cyber Monday deals from retail stores through a quick Google search.
Look at past years and see if you can find a cycle or pattern within the retail store. Most stores will have different deals every year because people are more likely to come back with different deals. However, many retail stores will stick to a certain percentage off or similar sales.
8. Don’t Forget About Bonus Incentives
Retail stores will do anything they can to get the best out of Cyber Monday. They might look like they are putting themselves in debt, but they tend to make more money the weekend after Thanksgiving than any other day of the year because of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals.
Retail stores also want you to come back and shop with them again. Therefore, many of them will offer specific incentives, such as a free gift card of $5 when you purchase so much or because you are a first-time customer.
7. Don’t Stress Out Over Cyber Monday
Cyber Monday can bring a lot of stress, especially when you are on a tight budget and trying to get the best deals. Plus, you need to make sure that you are using a secure site and browsing in private mode to up your security.
However, Cyber Monday is meant to be a fun shopping experience and give you a little breather when it comes to your Christmas shopping list or getting good deals on items you need around your home. Don’t keep it all business. Save a little money for yourself and get something nice.
6. Get As Many Discounted Gift Cards As Possible
Security is always a factor when you are shopping online. Gift cards are a great alternative to your debit or credit cards as there is limited access to any personal information. Stock up on discounted gift cards early as this will help you save money in the long run.
Before you purchase a gift card, look at the fine print. Make sure you can use the gift card for exclusive deals as some retail stores will limit the card’s use. Online clearinghouses such as Deals Plus and Cardcash are great places to look for discounted gift cards.
5. Don’t Install Software From A Link Or Code Onto Your Mobile Device
It doesn’t matter if you are using your phone or iPad; you do not want to install software onto your device that comes from a website link or code. Your best bet to find any app of your favorite retail store is to use Apple iTunes App or Google Play Store.
You want to make sure that the way you are shopping is linked to the retail store, and it is official. Anyone can create a website, create a link, and make you believe that it is attached to Cyber Monday deals and your favorite store.
4. Monitor Your Bank Account For Suspicious Activity
While you should always get in the habit of carefully watching your bank account to make sure you don’t have suspicious activity, this is incredibly important after Cyber Monday. There are a lot of people who know this is one of the biggest online shopping days of the year, and they are ready to find a card number to steal.
Sign in to your bank account online every day and note what has come through to your bank account. Take careful note of everything you have purchased and marked it down once it comes through your bank.
3. Use A Cashback App Or Reward Credit Cards
Cyber Monday is a great day to get the best out of your reward cards or cashback app. This online shopping tip will allow you to save more money in the long run. Some people are allowed to keep these rewards or cash for a year, so they use them for their next Cyber Monday experience.
Flat-rate cash back credit cards offered by Chase or Citi are a couple of the best for Cyber Monday deals. If you don’t care for credit cards or you don’t have the best credit, then you want to look at cashback apps.
2. Don’t Ignore Walk-In Stores
You might shop online for local stores, but you can still take time on Cyber Monday to walk into a store. Even walk-in stores will have exclusive deals on Cyber Monday. You can also save on shipping by picking up your items at the store.
One of the biggest benefits of shopping at a store during Cyber Monday is that the Black Friday crowd will be gone. They have what they want, so there won’t be a lot of people in the store. This shopping tip also allows you to pick up any items that you might have forgotten online.
1. Set A Budget And Stick With It
It is easy to lose track of how much money you are really spending when you don’t pay attention to your budget. You might see the items you need at 25% and 50% off, but the money still adds up faster than you think.
Even though it might seem like a great deal two buy something that is not on your list or notices a price is higher than you planned, you need to stick to your budget. This option is the best way to ensure you don’t find yourself in debt during the holidays.
“Top 17 Cyber Monday Shopping Tips to Score the Best Deals.” Brian Martucci, Money Crashers. November 2019