Like many Americans over the age of 40, you probably remember the thrill of shopping in a mall. From Macy’s to Sears, it was an exciting retail experience, not to mention a large part of many people’s social lives. From food courts to a new pair of jeans, malls had everything. While peak shopping season is upon us, you may not see many malls in your town. That’s because of online shopping. You can get the best deals shipped right to your doorstep for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Everyone knows about Black Friday. It’s a day of highly publicized fistfights over the last flat-screen TV in Target’s electronics aisle. If you love scoring a good deal, you might have even camped out in front of Best Buy or Sears beforehand. It’s a day of rock-bottom deals and early shopping for Christmas presents. Black Friday hasn’t always been this way, though.
The histories of Black Friday and Thanksgiving are permanently linked. President Lincoln declared Thanksgiving as a national holiday, during the Civil War. The day between Thanksgiving and the weekend had no alternate name, at first. There are many stories about how the name ‘Black Friday’ started. The most commonly accepted story, though, involves Philadelphia.
The famous Army-Navy game took place in that city on Saturday. That meant many tourists were in Philadelphia on Friday. The increased chaos and traffic was frustrating for policemen and ordinary residents. The general mood lent itself to the name ‘Black Friday’. But it boosted local retailers’ account books into the black. They were able to turn a profit. That led to the promotion and commercialization of the day. In 1966, the term truly began to take off.
As most people know, it’s a day carved out by overkill commercialism and vicious shoppers. That’s what all the headlines say. For most of us, though, we pick up some early Christmas presents and call it a day. Not everyone wants to pitch a tent in front of Walmart on Thanksgiving night. Rabid consumerism is the exception, not the norm. But those shoppers exist, which means you have to deal with them.
Today, if you’re a dedicated Black Friday shopper, you might be tired of trying to wrestle your shopping cart away from someone else. Maybe you’re tired of dealing with crowds, but it’s the only way you can get Christmas presents for the grandkids at a great price. If you don’t drive anymore, you may wonder how you can even get to the store this year. If any of these things are true, why should you go shopping at a brick-and-mortar store?
Luckily, many global retailers are up to speed when it comes to technology. These days, shoppers can celebrate Black Friday and Cyber Monday. They provide bookends for the biggest shopping weekend of the year. Now, you don’t even have to leave your house to get the best deals. If you’re spending time with family, especially if you traveled to be with them, you don’t have to spend your time shopping. Even better, you don’t have to stuff purchases in your suitcase for the flight home!
Shopping online might feel challenging. Once you figure it out, though, it’s much easier and more convenient. You can order packages right to your doorstep. If you want to send an early Christmas present, just input someone’s address, and the retailer will send it there. If you like shopping on Amazon, and are a Prime member, shipping is free. Another benefit is the ability to compare prices from many different retailers.
There’s no chance you’ll miss out on a great deal because you didn’t know that Best Buy marked their TVs down 15% more than Target. You can compare everything from your couch! This lets you get the best savings. You can also view your total before buying. Have you ever rolled your cart up to the checkout line and realized that you bought more than you could afford? All the Black Friday deals in the world may not save you when your cart is overflowing! You’ll be spared these nasty surprises before you ever order. You can alter your cart, figure out taxes, and more before any charges ever hit your credit card.
However, if you’re new to online shopping, it might seem challenging. Where can you start? Retailer apps are a great introduction. They are designed to enhance your shopping experience. They include features such as browsing products, accessing coupons, making purchases, and signing up for loyalty programs. Many retailers have integrated payment options such as Apple Pay, too.
For instance, if you love shopping at Target, their mobile app is a great start. It contains their weekly flyer, sends you notifications for flash sales, and allows you to make a shopping list. If you’ve ever wanted to get product information off a barcode, the app includes a scanner. Other apps also feature augmented reality. This technology lets you get a 360-degree view of the item you want to buy. Some apps with augmented reality allow you to visualize their product in your home. This is perfect for major furniture purchases!
As you spend more time browsing the Internet and finding deals from different retailers, be wary of retargeting. Sometimes, it can net you great deals. At other times, though, the price will shoot up. If you’re active online, you may have noticed repeating ads. If you just ordered a dress on Amazon, your Facebook newsfeed might be full of ads for new dresses. This isn’t a coincidence. Advertisers collect and use all the information they can. This includes your age, gender, location, income, shopping habits, and favorite sites.
Advertisers are able to do this with cookies. We’re not talking about the frosted holiday variety! In the digital world, cookies are tiny bits of information stored on your device. Advertisers use this to target you with their ads. Every time you look at a site, a tiny piece of text is logged in your browser history. Advertisers, like Amazon, share that information with advertising platforms, such as Facebook.
It all comes down to cookies. We’re not talking about the oatmeal raisin or chocolate chip variety. We’re referring to little bits of information stored on your device that advertisers use to target you with their ads. Every time you look at a website, a little bit of text is recorded in your browser history. Advertisers, such as Amazon, then share that data with advertising platforms, such as Facebook.
This is useful because of how people shop. You visit many sites while trying to make a decision. You only make a purchase from one or two sites, though. That makes it hard for retailers to capture your business. Statistics state that 2% of website visits result in a sale. Retailers cope with this by retargeting. Why does this matter to you? If you’ve shopped for airplane tickets recently, the price sometimes spikes after you’ve spent time shopping. The price hasn’t actually gone up. If you look at the same flight on a friend’s computer, it might be lower. This is due to retargeting. Retailers know you need to fly somewhere, and you might pay more to make that happen. On the other hand, though, you may get a coupon on your Facebook feed after browsing Nordstrom’s.
Taking advantage of the Black Friday deals is easier than ever. Comparing the best deals from your couch, and getting it delivered to your front door--what could be better? As you experience the ease of online shopping, it just might become your new favorite hobby!