Are you ready for Cyber Monday?

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Are you ready for Cyber Monday?

by: Megan Green | .
Stripes Okinawa | .
published: November 24, 2017

The Monday after Thanksgiving is no longer a time to lounge around and eat leftover turkey sandwiches. Cyber Monday has quickly become one of the biggest online shopping days of the year, and if you are prepared and do it right, you can easily snag the best deals while sitting on your sofa … and actually eating that leftover turkey sandwich. 

First and foremost, before shopping away, be aware of the time difference! Don’t be “that guy” who purchases items at the normal price because it’s still Sunday in the United States. But also don’t wait till the last minute. The items with the best deals on Cyber Monday sometimes have a limited supply. You have to plan accordingly and be at the front of the virtual line to save money. Don’t think you can roll out of bed at 3 p.m. on Monday and get rock-bottom prices – it’s a cyber-battle!

Now, one of the reasons why you’re probably reading this is because you despise the huge crowds on Black Friday. And the best part about shopping online is that you get to browse in peace without people being all up in your grill. Just don’t hide yourself completely from others. Use virtual bargain message boards like “SlickDeals.net” to find up-to-date information about great deals most people would not know about. Similar to Twitter, people are constantly posting information and letting you know about different sales for various sites.

Many times, what you see isn’t what you always get during Cyber Monday. One sweater for $10 may seem like a killer deal, but with hidden shipping, handling and taxes, the price of your purchase can easily double and leave you feeling robbed. If shipping and handling costs you an extra $10 for that one sweater, you’re not getting much of a deal. Use websites like “Pricegrabber.com” to compare prices of items and see if what you’re buying is worth it before clicking “buy”.

Although Asia doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, in 2012, Amazon Japan launched a Cyber Monday campaign in hopes to boost holiday shopping and start the American tradition in Japan.

“Cyber Monday” lasted for 7 days in the second week of December and was a huge success. Amazon Japan has yet to announce whether they will host their Cyber Monday campaign this December, but be sure to check it out for another chance to purchase great deals!

Must-use websites

 

Online holiday shopping done right

When to shop

Is it better to buy early, before Black Friday (Nov. 24, this year), or wait and let your fingers do the walking across the keyboard while crazed shoppers elsewhere fight over gifts at the local mall? Should you wait for the holidays to get closer and hope that retailers turn desperate for business and slash prices?

With each choice you take your chances, and military overseas also have to consider holiday mailing and whether presents purchased online will get to their intended destinations on time.

Consumer-price research has shown that the lowest prices on many popular holiday gifts, such as flat-screen TVs, are not found on Black Friday. Black Friday sales for many popular products, such as those from Apple, may not be such good deals. However, some retailers, like Amazon and Best Buy, have been known to offer discounts of up to 25 percent.

In the next couple of weeks, retailers will release their sales ads for Black Friday, and shoppers can see how they compare to current prices. Online shopping sites like BlackFriday.com will display ads, including those from Dell, K Mart, Modell’s, Radio Shack, Toys R Us, Macy’s, Best Buy, Sears, Victoria’s Secret and even the Exchange. The site also offers discount coupons and cash back on website purchases.

If you’re not sold on Black Friday being a good time to shop, you could wait until Cyber Monday, a name given in 2005 to the first Monday following Thanksgiving, which is one of the biggest online shopping days of the year, according to its creator Shop.org, a part of the National Retail Federation. Not surprisingly, Shop.org operates a website – www.cybermonday.com – that promotes deals from a variety of major retailers.

Shopping engines

Ever get tired of going back and forth between Internet shopping sites in order to find the lowest price, or feel that if you just look a little longer you will find a site that has the product you want at the price you want to pay? Then you are the person that shopping search engines have been created for.

These sites do your comparative shopping work for you, listing online sites, as well as brick-and-mortar stores, that have the products you want and state the selling price as well. You can then go to the sites with the lowest prices, figure out the cost of shipping, read customer reviews of their services, and make your purchase.

Shipments to APOs

Some retailers don’t ship to military APO and FPO addresses because they have exclusive bulk shipping contracts with UPS, FedEx or DHL to lower costs, and only the U.S. Postal Service delivers to military addresses. But there is online help.

Oconus.com lists hundreds of companies that ship to military post offices. There is also a way to buy from companies that don’t ship overseas to military addresses.

Apobox.com gives clients a   stateside mailing address to use for online shopping. Purchases go to an Apobox.com distribution center, from where they are fo rwarded via the U.S. Postal Service to customers around the world.

The company claims that most packages are processed and shipped out within 24 hours of arriving at its warehouse. It charges a handling fee as low as $6 per package, plus the U.S.

Postal Service’s regular postage cost plus an insurance fee.

Safe cyber shopping

Never use your credit card online with a site that doesn’t have SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption installed. You can tell if sites do their URLs, which will start with “https://” (instead of just http:// - without the “s”). An icon of a locked padlock will appear, generally in the status bar at the bottom of your web browser or right next to the URL in the address bar.

Don’t assume that public WiFi “hot spots” are secure. Unless you can verify that a hot spot has effective security measures in place, you may not want to send sensitive information like your credit card number over that network.

In fact, be stingy with your personal information. Don’t give out your credit card or other financial information in exchange for an offer like a free gift card or chance to win a holiday vacation rental. Never email your financial information such as a credit card number or your Social Security Number.

Don’t click on a link in an email. Legitimate companies don’t ask for your financial information via email or pop-up message.

Check the privacy policy

Really. It may be long, but it can give important information: for example, what personal information the website collects, why, and how the operators are going to use it. If you can’t find the privacy policy – or understand it – consider taking your business elsewhere.

Free screen savers, e-cards, or other seasonal downloads could carry dangerous viruses. Keep your anti-virus and anti-spyware software current along with your firewall.

One good reliable source for information about safe shopping and other online activities is the government website: www.onguardonline.gov.

Monitor your money

Pay by credit or charge card. They offer the best consumer protections. Under federal law, you have the right to dispute charges under certain circumstances and withhold payment temporarily while the creditor is investigating. And if your card is used without your authorization, your liability generally ends at the first $50.

Wiring money can be risky. It’s just like sending cash — once it’s gone, it’s gone. You can’t get it back. Buying online using cash equivalents – debit card, personal check, cashier’s check, or money order – can be risky. Use them only if you know the party you’re doing business with.

Monitor your financial accounts: Read your bank and credit card statements regularly to ensure they reflect the charges you authorized.