Online shopping tips - Black Friday

One of the best things about the internet is online shopping. Not only is it convenient, but it gives you access to more stores and products. Plus, the same tech you use to browse the web can also make it easier to grab the best deals and manage your spending on Black Friday. Here are some Black Friday shopping tips for using your browser to your advantage, along with some sensible shopping advice.

Set a budget

All of those special deals and price drops can make shoppers a bit light-headed, and also make your wallet lighter than you may have intended. To avoid this, set a spending limit. It’s a lot easier when you go to a store in person because you could use cash, so when you shop online with a credit card you’ll have to use your willpower. Which brings us to the next tip.

Make a list

Having a shopping list on Black Friday, making a plan and sticking to it, is one of the best shopping tips. As the saying goes, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. Sticking to your shopping list will save you money and keep you from going over your budget—which you’ve already set, right? Create a document online using your favorite list or note-taking service, then keep that tab open in your browser as you shop online. If you have your list on your phone, you can use Opera’s My Flow feature to send your list or any research to your computer’s browser, easily and securely.

Compare prices

Your list can save you even more money if you use it to compare prices from store to store. Do retailers drop prices during Black Friday? Yes and no. Some items see better discounts at other times of the year, like fitness equipment in January or holiday items after the holiday. If you’ve tracked items you want or need throughout the year, you’ll have a perfect picture of how good a deal really is by the four-day window that Black Friday has become.

Opera Snapshot Tool

Comparing prices across retailers (and checking Amazon) can reveal a lot, as some retailers are cleaning out inventory items while others are stocking up. Sites like CamelCamelCamel and PriceSpy can clue you in on price history, which is useful for big ticket items like 4K televisions. Use a screenshot app, like the snapshot tool in Opera to catalog items beforehand, and compare as you shop.

Check return policies

It’s not a deal if you can’t use it. That’s why it’s important to note any return policy restrictions on items you buy during this time. Inventory that’s basically being cleared out to make way for new models may not be returnable. Or, maybe the return window is just short enough that your gift’s recipient may not be able to return it. It’s also a good idea to check price-matching offers to stack up even more savings, although most price match offers don’t include discounted merchandise. Oh, and don’t forget gift receipts, just in case.

Sign up for emails and follow retailers on social media

Social media can be a huge time suck, but it’s also a primary conduit for customer acquisition, and companies are eager to connect there. Facebook pages are a good source of info, but there are also groups there with an eye on special deals. Twitter is a good spot for up-to-the-minute information about deals as well, and sometimes you’ll see a discount code tweeted out. Create an email address specifically for online shopping and sign up in advance. This will help you find out about good deals well before shopping on Black Friday.

Abandon your online cart

Abandon your online cart

There are a lot of time-sensitive deals when you’re shopping on Black Friday, but there are some you can prepare for as well. Many online retailers will send you a discount code if you show up, sign in, load up your cart and… leave. That’s because they want to convert you into a customer, not just a (browser) window-shopper. To do this, they’ll look at the abandoned cart and offer a small incentive to get you to purchase it.

Shop early

Some things, like winter clothes, have a discount period after the season. Black Friday deals however, can start early, like the week of the event. Plus, big retailers have been known to leak ads with deals in October and early November, so if you do a little online searching you might find some websites that are keeping track of the deals and offering shopping tips. There are a number of websites that are already predicting this year’s potential deals, but take them with a grain of salt.

Use a credit card, gift card or reward-based card

Use a credit card, gift card or reward-based card

While going into debt for the holidays isn’t a good idea, consider using reward-based credit cards or even gift cards to get the most out of your spending. Obviously, if someone gives you a gift card, well that’s just free money. But you can also buy them for yourself. During Black Friday, you can often find discounted gift cards for specific retailers, and you can then shop for gifts at those retailers (this year or the next). It’s sort of like a discount you buy up front. Credit cards that offer points based on how much you spend can also be used to get rewards, just be careful that you’re not spending too much on the interest or you’ll wind up paying more than retail.

Use your browser for dynamic pricing

Dynamic pricing is when shops change the price, up or down, depending on your location, online shopping history and other factors. You can take advantage of this by checking for different deals in your browser’s private mode so that shops give you fresh, enticing prices each time. If you think you are getting a high price, try clearing your cookies and setting your home location to a different country and you might see a better deal.

Do you have any other Black Friday shopping tips? Add them to the comments below.

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