This is it, the day that most shoppers have been waiting for all year. Black Friday shopping is a boon to retailers and to shoppers alike, but for some, it's easier than others thanks to what they've discovered. Marrying low-tech lists and mobile devices is the way to go this year to ensure that you get all of the deals that you've been itching for. Below, we list 20 bits of advice for shoppers to consider for today and all this weekend that may make braving the crowds and finding those dream discounts easier.
1. Stay Home
If going shopping unduly stresses you out, then you can try and do all of your shopping from home. It's definitely a less stressful way of spending Black Friday, and it will keep you away from the mobs and crazies that are bound to be found on the streets.
2. Place Your Bets
Depending on how close most of the stores are, you might have to put most of your eggs in one basket. Waiting in line for an hour or two isn't too bad, especially if you will end up saving hundreds of dollars. However, choosing the right first store is important, because this is the one you'll end up waiting in line for before it opens. Target big stores, ones that will have lots of inventory. Here are some tips on surviving the waiting line.
3. Leave Young Children At Home
While Black Friday shopping can be rewarding for families, taking along your younger children isn't always conducive to finding the best deals. Leaving them with the grandparents or other family members will ensure that you won't be even more stressed on a stressful day.
4. Plan B
With the crazy mobs and crowds, it's a possibility that you won't always get what you want. That's why it's important to have a plan b in place. For every product that you want to get, you should try and find alternative products. This will ensure that you won't leave with empty hands.
5. Don't Over Do It
If you've got your day planned out, we suggest not spending the whole deal on finding deals. It can get stressful, so it's best to reserve the first portion of your day shopping, and then spending the rest of the day relaxing. For some people, browsing can have its own rewards. You never know what you'll find.
6. Print Out Product Specs
In order to ensure that you are actually getting what you want, you can print out a few product spec sheets and take them with you and have the store confirm that you are getting this and only this product, not some stand-in.
7. Make a Detailed List of What You Will Buy
This will help you stick to a plan and make sure that you don't spend your money on crap gadgets. For example, list the exact brand, screen size, and model number of the HDTVs you are interested in. A few different numbers in the product name might translate to hundreds of dollars of difference in price. It's best to be very well informed when heading out.
8. Check Store Stock Before Lining Up
There are a few ways that you can easily check stock when getting ready for Black Friday. Most electronics stores have their online counterparts. This is an easy way of checking store stock, since you can select your location, and use the available interface to check store stock of a particular item that you are planning on buying. While to a casual user, the online version and the nearby big box store might seem the same, they aren't. They can both ultimately have different Black Friday deals.
9. Always Take Your Store Circulars With You
It seems something easy to do, but having the circulars of the stores you are planning on visiting with you, including the stores competitors will allow to make sense of the myriad of deals that you will find. This will stave off any impulse buys, ensuring that you spend your money only on severely discounted items. You can also scan or photograph these, and view them on your iPad/iPhone/mobile device while you are shopping.
10. Make Detailed Plans
While making a general plan is a given, it's best to make a detailed plan, allowing you to maximize your time in each store, getting the best deals. Using Google Maps is also a good idea, since you can map your route.
11. Splitting Up Your Family to Seek Out Better Deals
Sending the oldest child or the significant other to another store to get other deals is always a good option, especially if the physical location of the store is further away. Use Google Maps to plan this out in detail.
12. Leave Credit Cards At Home
This is a trick that I've used in the past to limit the amount of money that I'll spend. I'll just take cash with me to the stores I visit. It's safe to say that this stops any and all impulse buys that are over your budget. It will also give you ways of dealing with smaller stores, who will prefer cash purchases over credit cards.
13. Compare Online Deals Before Heading Out
Make sure that you're not wasting your money by thoroughly researching the deals that you are interested in. Check out online Black Friday deals from Amazon and other online retailers comparing the tech items. Using a site like Milo will also help you locate the stores you want to go to on a map, with all of the advertised relevant deals highlighted. Check out the deals that we've found here.
14. Check Between Similar Products From Different Manufacturers
Most manufacturers have competing product lines. Make sure that you're aware of these and list them as well, so that if you're first choice is no longer available, you have a backup plan.
15. Price Check by Amazon App & Other Apps
Conveniently scan the barcode of an item to check the online price with your iPhone while you're shopping using Amazon's Price Check app. There's the Milo Local Shopping Android app which does even more. The iPhone version of this app, the Consumer Reports Mobile Shopper app costs $10.
16. Be Wary of Recalled and Refurbished Products
While getting some of these when you know what they are can equate in significant discounts, it's important that you know which products that you will be buying have been recalled and which have been refurbished. Any product that comes in a sealed box is usually sold as new.
17. Deals Too Good to Be True Might Be
Black Friday is an opportunity for unscrupulous stores to offload a lot of products to clear inventory for the coming year. Some of the really big discounts are on products that will either be replaced in Q1 2011, discontinued products, refurbished products, and other somewhat less than interesting items.
18. Social Barkoding
Instead of using your smartphone to do social networking, use it to do social barkoding. Bako.do can that not only scan almost all barcodes, but it also does QR codes. Using these codes, you can look up a number of things, from prices to aggregated information from a number of search engines.
19. Drop Your Shopping Off
Once you're done, drop your wares off at home, and go out and relax. Getting a bite to eat with some friends or family is always something nice to do, especially when you can see other people running around like chickens with their heads cut off. If you are driving around a lot, it might also be a good idea to drop your wares off a few times a day, to ensure that your car doesn't get broken in.
20. Don't Browse, Shop
If you really want to find a lot of items on Black Friday, it's important to move around stores quickly and effectively, wasting the least amount of time possible. This means that you shouldn't really be browsing, you should be shopping. Once you're done in one store, move onto the next one.
[images via Mobile Behavior, Citizen Ted, Madame Noire, Gear Diary, Rocky Mountain News, Siliconistan, Kentucky.com]