4 Online Holiday Shopping Tips for Consumers

This article was originally published on my LinkedIn Pulse, 12/02/2019.

The holiday shopping season provides a huge opportunity for e-commerce marketplaces (and brick-and-mortar stores with e-commerce platforms) to hit end-of-year sales goals and finish in the green. 

But for your average consumer, holiday shopping can be mentally, emotionally, and financially taxing. So as you browse deals for Cyber Monday (which seems to have evolved into “cyber week” sales), make sure you do the following to help ease some of your looming frustrations.

1. Make a list and check it twice 

No, really. Santa’s got this one right. Making lists can help you segment “needs” vs. “wants” and allow you to visibly see what’s left to get for your aunt, your brother, or your best friend.

First, make a list of the stores you want to purchase from. Whether it’s your favorite go-to beauty marketplace or a new Instagram-promoted website, know where you plan to shop and plan your course of action from there.

Next, make a list of the people you need to buy gifts for. As you actually purchase gifts for them, check them off of your list. Have sub-bullet points for each gift you purchase so you don’t buy something twice. Use Google docs or similar to add, copy-paste, and delete with ease. 

Last, make a list of things you were unable to find. As the holiday shopping season goes on, it’s likely you’ll find the missing gift at a later date – and maybe for a lower price once the hype dies down!

2. Budget and don’t get yourself into debt that you can’t recover from

The holiday season makes many people feel more generous, but that generosity can put a deep hole in your pocketbook. If you have 20 people to buy for, set a spending limit on the amount per person – and DON’T exceed it. Even at $10 per person, that’s $200 already. If $10 isn’t realistic, then make sure whatever your overall budget is is a budget you stick to.

Many people spend a minimum of $1000 during the course of the holiday season, usually racking up bills on credit cards – not paying the money outright. What’s more, only 42 percent of people plan to pay off their holiday debt within 3 months’ time. The longer you sit on credit card debt, the higher it grows.

To be shopping-savvy, learn what the APR (annual percentage rate) on each credit card you have is so that you know which one has the lowest rate – and which one you should use for your big-ticket purchases.

In short, don’t overspend. If you can’t afford it, you can’t afford it. Consider handmade goods or lower-cost options to prevent yourself from going into debt this holiday season.

3. Shop around

Just because your favorite store is having a 15% off sale doesn’t mean it’s the best deal around. Do a Google search for the brand or product in question and see who has a lower price point, or a higher price point but free shipping – sometimes it’s a better deal all around! 

4. Ask for help and use online support  

You’re spending your hard-earned money on gifts for people (and maybe yourself!) but you have questions about a product, its features, or how it compares to competitor products. You don’t want to dive in and make a purchase without knowing more first. So ASK. Don’t be shy.

Use on-site chatbots or live chat systems for quick assistance to get the answers you need. If those options are unavailable, call the store or email them – but remember: emailing will offer the slowest turnaround response time if you’re looking for help in a rush.

When proper help is provided, you’ll feel more at ease to purchase a larger amount of product. When they help you, you help them. It’s a win-win.

Ho-ho holiday shopping is on the horizon

Don’t let the fear of overspending bog down your holiday cheer. Go in with a plan of action to make the most of this holiday shopping season.

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