A trip to the store on Black Friday is not for the faint of heart. If you’re not up for the madness, that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the deals. In fact, these days you may even get a better deal if you stay on the couch and shop online instead. If you do some planning beforehand and go in with a strategy, you’ll be able to take advantage of the best deals out there. Here are some tips for crafting a winning Black Friday game-plan.
1. Before Black Friday
Black Friday is not a time for leisurely “window shopping,” even online. Before trying to find deals on anything, the best place to start is by getting an idea of what you want to buy. A new TV? A D-SLR camera? That tablet computer you’ve been eyeing? It’s easier to find a good deal if you can be relatively precise about what you want.
Once you know what you’re shopping for, get an idea of which places are going to be offering deals on the item you want. A great place to start for this is Google Shopping. All you have to do is type the name of what you want into Google, say, a Nikon D3100, and you’ll get a list of all the stores that have it and for what price. Google Shopping even shows you which stores are running a special offer on the item you want. You’ll also be able to see in-store versus online prices, and if there’s a big enough difference, maybe you’ll be convinced to brave the crowds in the brick-and-mortar store on Black Friday. At this point, start making a list of stores you might want to buy from.
Another place you should look is CouponPal’s Black Friday Deals page. Here you’ll be able to browse the deals that are being offered by various stores and add to your list of stores that are offering discounts on the items you want.
Now you can go to the stores on your list, and if you haven’t already, sign up for their email newsletters. This way, you’ll receive news about their Black Friday discounts right in your inbox. Email newsletters will generally tell you what the deals are, when the sales will go active, and if there’s a flash sale or a coupon needed at checkout, you won’t miss it!
2. On Black Friday
They say the early bird catches the worm, and this is as true on Black Friday as ever. Even though you’re shopping online, you still want to “get there” early, because the very best deals will sell out.
It’s not a bad idea to shop for what you want and put it in your online shopping cart the night before. On the morning of Black Friday, check and make sure your items are reflecting the Black Friday discounts. Then you can just snatch them up! Some stores’ Black Friday online deals actually go live on Thanksgiving day. If you can sneak away from family and friends for a moment, you might be able to get a really good deal before Black Friday even begins.
If during your Black Friday shopping you’ve found good discounts on the same item at different stores and are having trouble deciding, don’t forget about shipping. See if one of the stores is offering a better deal on shipping or has free returns. Then, choose the store that is offering the very best bargain, including the price of the item, shipping, and return policy.
There are a few apps you can download that will also facilitate your shopping and help you find the best deals. PriceBlink is a browser add-on (not exactly an app, but as useful as one) that helps you find cheaper prices while you’re shopping. So, say you’re looking at the product page of a Best Buy TV, PriceBlink might pop up and tell you, “Save $80 if you buy this at Abe’s of Maine.” The add-on also lets you browse a list of prices offered by different stores on the item you’re looking at.
Apps like PriceGrabber and ShopSavvy let you search for an item and compare both online and in-store prices. The ShopAdvisor app does the same, and also keeps a price history chart of items, so you can see if the price seems to be increasing – hurry, buy it now! – or decreasing.
If you are trying to decide between buying an item in-store versus online, there are two important things you should keep in mind: shipping and gas. If you’ll have to brave traffic in order to get to the store, even the extra savings you might get in-store may not matter compared the the gas you had to use to get there.
If the online deal looks better than the in-store one, first add the cost of shipping to the price and then compare. Be sure to add up all the expenses related to buying in-store versus online, and then make your decision based on which option truly offers the most savings.
Before making your purchase, the last thing you should do is look for a coupon or promo code. Many stores will offer extra savings on top of their Black Friday discounts in the form of coupon codes. You may have received some codes in the email updates from your favorite stores. You can also find coupons at CouponPal.com – just type the name of the store in the search box, and you’ll find all the available promo codes and discounts.
3. After Black Friday
Hopefully you got everything you wanted at a great price on Black Friday, but there’s still a possibility to get an even better deal. If you bought something at a store that offers a price match guarantee, keep your eye out for lower prices on the same item you bought over the next few days. If you find the same item for a lower price at a different store, go ahead and take advantage of the store’s guarantee. You might be able to get a few dollars off your purchase refunded this way.
If you missed something you wanted on Black Friday, or maybe didn’t find a good enough deal, don’t fret. Cyber Monday is just around the corner! But that’s a topic for a whole different article.