Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become two of the most important shopping days of the season for anyone looking to save some money and finish their holiday shopping early. And while the deals are very good (your bank account will thank you), it’s not alwats easy to come out on top these days. Many ambitious and organized shoppers have had their butts handed to them on Black Friday (sometimes literally) because they made simple mistakes like looking for the wrong deals or not having a backup plan.
Since it’s such a thin line between #winning Black Friday and getting trampled by a crowd, we’ve outlined some tips for getting what you want this year and not being left empty-handed. First, we outlined exactly what to buy when, and now we’ve gone ahead and put all our CEO and online shopping expert Michelle Madhok‘s best tips in one place. We want to make sure you are well prepared for these two chaotic days.
Tips for shopping Black Friday sales in store:
Tip: Prepare, prepare, prepare: Do a lot of research on which stores will be carrying what. Going to Best Buy for a TV might seem like the most obvious choice, but it may not be the cheapest.
Tip: Look over every Black Friday circular and Cyber Monday ad to compare prices. Then you’ll know which stores are offering the best deals on each product. Check sites like BlackFriday.com and BFAds.net
Tip: Download apps that will help make Black Friday shopping easier for you. There are apps that will help you find the best route to your store and alert you when the stores you’re at are having special deals and coupons.
Tip: Clip store coupons for additional Black Friday savings.
Tip: Compare prices with sites like PriceGrabber.com.
Tip: Aim for big ticket items. 70% off a TV is worth more than 70% off a pair of gloves.
Tip: Make sure you know what comes with the products you plan to buy. Sometimes prices are really low because a product comes stripped of the things it needs to function properly, which will ultimately result in you having to purchase those items separately. This tends to happen with low priced computer printers—you’ll get the actual printer for what seems like a great deal, but then you’ll have to shell out for ink and a cable.
Tip: Know the layout of the store you plan to shop at. This will prevent you from wasting time looking for the department you need to get to.
Tip: Get to your store way ahead of time. Quite a few stores will be beginning their Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving day—if your store is opening at 6pm, get there at least an hour ahead of time.
Tip: The early bird catches the worm. This applies to grabbing door-buster deals. The quantities aren’t endless—in fact, some stores will only have a couple units of the door-busters they advertise in their flyer. So if you were hoping to grab that one big ticket item, getting there an hour ahead of time is not enough—get there hours ahead of time. It might mean putting off the turkey till Friday evening, but it’s something to really consider.
Tip: There will likely be a line at the big Black Friday stores like Best Buy, Target, and Walmart. Get on that line and be kind. Even form an alliance with your line neighbor if you can. She might be there for a food processor, while you’re hoping to score headphones. Strike a deal that’ll benefit you both. If she sees your Beats by Dre, she’ll grab em, and if you see the Cuisinart she wants, you’ll pick it up.
Tip: Instead of running around town like a chicken without a head, try to shop at one store while getting the best deals with price matching. Larger department stores will usually match the prices of their competitors, just make sure to bring proof and know that not every item is applicable.
Tip: Know the return policy. Some sale items may be final sale, and some stores might have a very small window to make returns.
Tips for shopping Black Friday and Cyber Monday online:
Tip: Use a fast browser like Google Chrome.
Tip: Make sure whatever you buy is in stock and guaranteed for Christmas delivery, or you might be stuck handing out IOU’s on Dec 25th.
Tip: Sign-up for email newsletters and follow your favorite retailers on Twitter and Facebook. Some sites frequently give subscribers early access to sales and additional discounts .
Tip: Set up an autofill tool for your credit card and shipping address now. You can set up tools like RoboForm to remember your passwords to your favorite sites and also fill in shipping addresses to various places.
Tip: Shop from the bottom up. Hit view all and then shop from the bottom of the sales page to the top. Everyone else will be shopping top down, and things at the top will sell out faster.
Tip: Don’t let anything linger in your shopping cart for too long. Some sites will dump non-purchased goods back into inventory after 10 minutes or so.
Tip: Grab promo codes by visiting sites like RetailMeNot or googling the names of shopping sites with the words ‘coupon code’.
(Tip: Online shopping can save time and with free shipping, easy comparison-shopping, and the high cost of gas, it could save you money as well. For free shipping coupons, go to FreesShipping.org. Also keep in mind that some stores offer online purchase with in-store pickup, so search their policies or call customer service to find out. )