Its November. And that means one of the major shopping events of the year is literally around the corner: Black Friday / Cyber Monday. You need a game plan for a sale like this, my friend. Unless you want to participate in the mayhem. I, for one, do not.
Before we get started on how to tackle this monster of a shopping opportunity, first things first…
Put it in your calendar
I’m assuming you have a smartphone, but this will work on an ordinary calendar, you just need to remember to do it every year. Black Friday is always the day after Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is always on the 4th Thursday in November. This year’s is on November 26. Using the screen-shots below as a guide, create an all-day calendar entry Starting Friday 27th and Ending Monday 30th with the title Black Friday / Cyber Weekend! (Or whatever you want to call it) Set alert times for 1 week before, and the day of. Now set up a repeat entry for every year, using the 4th Friday in November as your event date indicator. Voila! This way you will know when Black Friday will occur every year ad infinitum, and your trusty phone will remind you not to miss it.
Now go pour yourself a beverage. This could be lengthy, but I’ll break it down into bite sized chunks for easy digestion.
At a glance this is what The Compulsive Consumer Cyber Weekend Game Plan 2015 (mouthful!) looks like:
- Dispense with the idea you are physically going shopping
- Work out what you need and who you are buying for
- Identify the stores you are interested in
- Know your sale calendar
- Sign up to newsletters
- Sign up to rewards programs
- Start ‘Wish Listing’
- Have basic knowledge of the RRP of the items you are interested in
- Edit edit edit
If you have an idea of what you’re doing you can click on the headings to skip ahead.
Seriously… are you nuts?
See that picture below? Thats outside Macy’s at 5:15pm on Thanksgiving day. They’re waiting for midnight when the stores will open. MIDNIGHT!
Just say NO. The only sane way to participate in Black Friday is to stay at home and shop online. As someone who works in retail, I loath working sales let alone shopping in them. Do yourself, the store and all the sales assistants involved a favour and shop from the comfort of your own home. Most stores have cottoned on to the fact that Black Friday – traditionally the day for in-store discounts – is a lot less hassle (and a lot less dangerous) if they encourage people to shop online instead. You will find that most major online stores will offer discounts from Black Friday all the way through to midnight Monday. They may be different discounts every day. They may even include Thanksgiving… because, you know, what else are people going to do when they’ve eaten too much turkey? (Shop online, the physical stores are closed!) You really will need to have your finger on the pulse to make sure you buy at the right time. I’ve got you covered though – keep reading.
The idea being, it isn’t a bargain if you’re only buying it because its cheap. You know what’s cheaper than 60% off? Not buying it at all! Whatever you buy, it needs a purpose. It needs to be used. Are you buying all your christmas presents? If so, who are they for? Do you have a rough idea of what each person would like/wants? Are you buying for yourself? You can easily get swept up in the excitement of deep discounts, go a little over board and end up with a bunch of stuff your will never use.
What I like to do is buy up all my cosmetics I regularly use, the ones you repurchase over and over again. I also make use of the discounts to buy key fashion pieces that I will wear to death. For instance, Leather: whether a jacket, boots or handbag I know these are my staples. And labels I would never normally look at full price (Alexander McQueen, I’m watching you).
Again, things can get out of control pretty quick. You have a limited amount of time and you have to make a snap decision. If you have a shopping list, that eliminates some of the risk. If you add in a strict budget, that will help keep you sane too. Also, if you are like my friend E, having a buddy on call who will talk you down from Retail High induced unnecessary purchases can be very helpful.
You have 4 days, possibly less – and even then only the hours you are at home/awake – that you can shop at mega discount. You want to know where you want to spend your time doing that. Identify the stores online and bookmark them in your browser. Be ruthless about which stores you will shop from. If the shipping isn’t reasonable/free, strike them off your list. Your discount will be undone by the exorbitant shipping. On international sites, make sure they aren’t geo-fencing you. That is, excluding you from purchasing because they don’t have the right to sell X product in your country. Usually because a local retailer has an exclusivity deal for that brand/product. But also, because they perceive the local market is willing to pay a different (higher) price. (Check MAC cosmetics pricing on its own site for different geographical locations. Price gouging at its best!) Try adding something to you basket and almost checking out to see whether any restricted notices come up. Do all this now so that come sale day, you can open up a million tabs in your browser, a store on each one, sit down with your snacks, vino, Netflix in the background and your list of what you are buying and have at it uninterrupted for a couple of hours, knowing you’re not having to wade through the rubbish to find the good stuff.. Its all in the planning and preparation.
This helps me narrow down which stores I want to focus on and when I am going to visit their site. Who had the best discounts last year? Who has run 50% off for one day only for the last 3 years running? Do any of the stores on your list regularly have good discounts? Are they going to be better on Cyber Weekend? Or the same as usual? If you can get the same discount at any other time of you year, do you want to waste you time buying from those stores? I would only do this if there was season stock I wanted to get my hands on at discount that I might not see again if I wait.
This is also a good tip to use all year round if you are a chronic sales shopper (Who is buying full price? I mean, really. Who is buying full price? Stop it. Immediately.) Retailers have budgets that are based on last years sales. For instance, if the store in question had a 20% off Labour Day sale this year, then next year its highly likely they will do the same thing. They need to have a big sales week that week to match last years sales. Its worth noting these things on a calendar as history does repeat itself.
Because you want to know all the information regarding discounts, sale timeframes, shipping offers, gwps, with as much prior notice as possible so you can form your plan of attack. Don’t worry about getting spam mail. I have a brilliant way of combatting that which we will cover in a later post. If you really are concerned, set up a dedicated email account for all your shopping newsletters, to keep the fun stuff away from the important emails.
While I think about it, have you signed up to our Newsletter yet?
Lots of online stores will have a points reward system for loyal shoppers. What I’m really talking about here though, are VIP services. For instance ASOS Premiere gives you free express shipping and free super easy returns for $39 a year. For me thats a no-brainer. I buy from ASOS at least 4 of 5 times a year. Thats less than if a paid regular shipping on those orders. Plus the free returns means I can buy without risk.
Online stores that let you save items to a list are my favourite! BeautyBay, ASOS, Victoria’s Secret to name a few all do this. You should be building these wish lists now. Come sale day, log in, view wish list, make sure you still want everything listed now you know the discount, add to cart, BOOM! Items bought. You can spend as much time and effort as you want on this stage, but you’e set your calendar alert for 1 week prior. Update this if you want longer. I usually have several revolving wish lists in the off chance my items go on sale. Here is my current ASOS wish list. Fingers crossed that Lulu Guinness clutch goes on 60% off!
Don’t get caught out buying something that was marked 40% off, but had an inflated full price. I see it so often. Online stores advertising a bargain when the discounted price is more that the recommended retail price. StrawberryNet is a repeat offender. Buyer beware. While you’re at it, if you shop internationally, download the XE Currency App. That way you can keep tabs on whether those stores converting the currency for you are also making a tidy profit from diddling the exchange rate. Most are, the question is, how much are you will to put up with?
This is for your wish lists, your shopping lists, your book marks and your shopping cart. But mainly your shopping cart. I do all the other leg work beforehand so I can spend my time adding and subtracting from my shopping cart to take the best advantage of the discount. Yes, like an extreme coupon-er. Judge me all you like. I’m the one getting the best discount. Its worth the messing around.
So, tell me, what tips and tricks do you have to help you get the most out of Black Friday / Cyber Monday? Let me know down below… Sharing is caring!