Oh, technology, how I love thee! No more do I have to brave crowds of bloodthirsty shoppers in the days after Thanksgiving. I can curl up in my pajamas and fuzzy slippers, a mug of hot goodness in my hand, and shop from my laptop without standing in a cold line or being run over with a shopping cart! Holiday shopping is more popular than ever, and shoppers are wiser than ever. If you’re shopping from home this weekend, take advantage of my top ten tips!
- Make a list and do your homework. Know in advance what you’re shopping for and keep a list. Just like items on store shelves, online inventory can sell out fast. Research in advance exactly what you’re looking for and write it down. Otherwise, you might find yourself overwhelmed with options and wasting valuable time.
- Sign up for emails from your favorite retailers. Most retailers reward their repeat customers with special email offers, so be sure you are on their mailing list in advance. You can also register with sites like CyberMonday, who track special offers from over 500 retailers all year long.
- Always price check. It’s easier than ever to make sure you’re getting the best price when you shop online, so before you click “buy,” use a site like PriceGrabber to check other sellers and compare prices.
- Buy with a credit card. Most credit cards offer amazing consumer protections, so opt for a credit card over a debit card for online purchases.
- Check reputations. There are some amazing small businesses online, but of course there are also some sharks. Visit the Better Business Bureau online for peace of mind if you’re not familiar with a retailer.
- Don’t be afraid to wait for the price you need. Sites like Hukkster or BuyLater will track the price of the items you want and notify you when they’ve dropped.
- Search for shipping codes. Be careful to avoid high shipping and handling costs, which can sometimes offset unbelievably low prices. Most retailers offer great rates on shipping, often with a minimum purchase amount. Do a quick Internet search for shipping codes if you don’t find one readily.
- Know return and exchange policies. Read the fine print and make sure you’re comfortable with the terms for returns and exchanges before you buy.
- Organize your purchases and receipts. Create a folder to stash all of your purchasing records, including receipts and return shipping information. You’ll thank yourself over and over if you need it.
- Ship to recipient. Remember that billing addresses and shipping addresses can be different, so save even more by having your gifts shipped directly to your recipients. Most sites, like Mrs. Fields, will offer free gift enclosures and keep the full receipt from being included.
Those are my top tips, but what are yours? Share your ideas too!