Retailers are ready to make the most of Cyber Monday

Posted Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Where consumers get Cyber Monday sales information 1. Store websites: 74 percent 2. Word-of-mouth: 74 percent 3. Emails: 68 percent 4. Cyber Monday deal sites: 51 percent 5. Social media: 48 percent 6. Newspapers and circulars: 43 percent Source: Nielsen

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Wait — you’re not done shopping for holiday deals yet.

The online shopping phenomenon Cyber Monday is coming in two days, and retailers are ready to make the most of it.

Wal-Mart said it plans to have a week of bargains, with 200 deals per day, starting today. Wal-Mart’s Facebook fans, mobile app users and email subscribers will also be invited to shop for up to 20 specials on Sunday, while supplies last.

“Last year, Cyber Monday was our best sales day in Walmart.com’s history, and we’ve spent all year preparing to make it even better for customers,” Joel Anderson, president and CEO of Walmart.com U.S., said in a prepared release. “More than two-thirds of people who plan to shop in our stores on Black Friday also plan to shop Cyber Monday. Every year there’s a bigger appetite for Cyber Monday.”

Wal-Mart is also rolling back the minimum purchase for free shipping to $35 for Cyber Week deals.

Target also plans a week of online deals starting Sunday and is offering free shipping on 300 toys. Other Cyber Monday deals include 30 percent off everything online at Old Navy and 40 percent off at Express. Last year, smaller retailers followed suit with deals for the day.

Meanwhile, Amazon.com, the king of online retailers, is holding its deals close to the vest. But based on last year’s experience, the retailer will have a strong showing on Cyber Monday.

Last year, Cyber Monday drew more than $1.5 billion in sales, said Brad Wilson of www.BradsDeals.com and www.CyberMonday2013.com. Online sales have seen double-digit growth on this day in the past few years, so sales this year could reach $2 billion, he said.

“This is Cyber Monday’s seventh year,” he said. “It wasn’t a big day for online sales until around 2010, when sales tipped over $1 billion a day.”

That’s about when retailers started taking the day seriously, Wilson said.

“In the last couple of years, retailers have put out their biggest online promotions of the year on that day,” he said.

“Personally it’s one of my favorite days to shop. There’s always more money to be saved online than in stores, and Cyber Monday is the day when the amount of discounts available is as large as any day of the season.”

While some online-only retailers are “leaking” Cyber Monday ads in a format similar to the Black Friday ads you find in newspapers, Monday’s deals are generally more fluid than a single ad campaign, Wilson said.

“Sometimes price wars break out,” he said. “Like three years ago when Wal-Mart put books on sale for $9.99 and Target and Amazon jumped in and matched the price.”

In a survey by Nielsen, a whopping 88 percent of consumers said they will use their computers again this year to do their Cyber Monday shopping. Consumers will also turn to their mobile devices, with 37 percent planning to use tablets and 27 percent using cellphones.

Store websites and word-of-mouth are the main ways consumers find deals, according to Nielsen. In addition, consumers will look to Cyber Monday websites, their social media accounts and newspaper circulars.

Because of the various ways retailers can now reach customers, individual retailers often offer different deals for the same product, Wilson said, adding to the confusion of online shopping.

A retailer may have one offer on its website while putting different discounts out in an email, on its app and on its Facebook page.

“There is a lot of noise on that day,” he said. “You could end up with 12 different offers and you have to figure out which one is best. It’s one of my biggest concerns and challenges.”

Here are other Cyber Monday strategies:

• Stick with your list. Otherwise you will get lost in the noise and may make impulse buys that you don’t really want.

• Read reviews. Consumer reviews can be helpful, but they may have little value when they disagree to a wide degree. Look to professional sites like ConsumerReports.com, PCMag.com and Cnet.com or ConsumerSearch.com, which is a reviewer of reviews.

• Compare prices. Always look at sites like PriceGrabber.com and Shopzilla.com before you push the “buy” button.

• Don’t pay for shipping. Wilson says that if you’re paying for shipping on Cyber Monday, you’re doing something wrong. Most stores either have free shipping or offer it with a coupon code. Or you can find the same item at a store that does ship for free.

• Get extended warranties through credit cards. Store warranties are generally overpriced. Instead, check whether your credit card offers a free extended warranty. American Express and Citi cards generally do, often past the 12-month factory warranty.

• Find the best coupon codes or printable coupons. Make sure you have the best coupon by looking at sites like BradsDeals that track the top coupons for each store.

Teresa McUsic's column appears Saturdays. TMcUsic@SavvyConsumer.net

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