By Beth Pinsker Gladstone
In a one-day blitz of shopping, consumers are expected to empty their wallets of more than $1 billion on Cyber Monday, according to spending projections from research firm, ComScore. The day follows closely on the heels of Black Friday, which kicked off the holiday shopping season at stores, and is often the busiest shopping day for retailers.
Still, not every Web-browsing window shopper will hit the "buy" button today: 65 percent of shopping carts are typically abandoned by online shoppers, says the Baynard Institute in Copenhagen. These consumers may be motivated by a belief, often correct, that there's a better deal out there.
Cyber Monday 2012 may offer the best deals on technology products this year, says Brian Hoyt, senior writer for RetailMeNot.com, a coupon code site. That's because merchants have held back their best deals for the Black Friday-Cyber Monday shopping bonanza to whittle down their inventory, and they are likely to sell out without needing to discount further, he says.
Here are a few strategies that should help you navigate Cyber Monday and enjoy the best possible prices this year.
Make a List
Successful Cyber Monday shopping is not about aimlessly browsing or getting everything in one place, says Hoyt. It's about honing your list down to specific items and searching for the lowest prices for each of them.
One way to do this is to browse at stores over the holiday weekend, to scan bar codes of desired products into a price-checking application like Red Laser, and to check reviews or browse ads at home.
"If I were a consumer trying to be as thrifty as possible, I would invest my time at the aggregated websites that are compiling the Cyber Monday deals," says Andrew Baker, assistant professor of marketing in the College of Business Administration at San Diego State University. And, when stores are shut, check for deals online. "That's what retailers want you to do," says Dan Olds, who runs Gabriel Consulting Group, a retail trend watching firm.
Once you've narrowed down your wish list, it should take only minutes to find the lowest price, says RetailMeNot's Hoyt. Simply plug the item into a search engine like Nextag, Google Shopping or Pricegrabber, and evaluate your options.
Then, enter details on the stores with the best prices into a coupon code site such as Dealio or Pricegrabber to see if there are codes that come up. When you do the math, you may find that the merchant in the No. 2 spot may be offering a 10 percent discount deal or free shipping, offering better overall value than the store in the top spot.
Indeed, try to avoid shipping costs altogether. To broaden your chances of finding deals, "Like" and follow your favorite stores on Twitter and Facebook ; some retailers will post deals just for their online fans. If you are an active online shopper, you may receive personalized deal offers as the holiday season progresses, for procrastinators who want a day of their own.
By Beth Pinsker Gladstone