Following up on her previous guest post on preparing for holiday shopping online for the first time, Jamie Payne is back with a full report on this year’s Black Friday shopping online. From the sound of it, we may have an eCommerce convert here!
Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone and this year has been a landmark year for consumers as they navigate online retail – the first time for some like myself. I settled in, credit card in hand, ready to do some major shopping. What I didn’t expect was the challenges that this new experience would create. After reassessing my thoughts and creating a new game plan, I was able to refocus and saved a ton of money, and ended up really enjoying shopping this way. A new experience for me, I appreciated the efforts online retailers and brands made to ensure the in-store customer experience I am used to was replicated online.
Black Friday FOMO is real
I started being bombarded with e-mails and text messages from retailers on the Tuesday leading up to Cyber Weekend, telling me Black Friday sales had started. I quickly realized that I needed to get a head start on my holiday shopping if I was going to get everything I needed and take advantage of all the sales. I quickly became overwhelmed and couldn’t keep up. After my husband pointed out that I had been on my phone for close to 4 hours and hadn’t purchased a single thing, I realized that I was getting nowhere.
Black Friday shopping online while using my in-store shopping strategy without a clear direction of what I was looking for was very overwhelming and wasn’t going to be an effective online shopping strategy. I knew that I would need to quickly adapt, and stick to my list very closely if I was going to get anywhere. This helped me to stay on track and take full advantage of all the deals. Once I was able to focus, I found several really good deals on sites like Old Navy, Francesca’s, and Under Armour.
I had to contact one retailer to ask a question about a ring setting. I found the chat option very convenient and the customer service representative was extremely helpful and answered all of my questions. He gave me the information I would need to purchase the product and it was a very easy experience. They made me feel very comfortable and secure with my purchase.
But they already have everything!
Speaking of lists, I found that several of my friends and family are really difficult to shop for. Especially my 16-year-old daughter who pretty much has everything a teenager could possibly want. I had my kids make their own personalized lists on Amazon of things that they would like and I also found lists on Buzzfeed and Pinterest really helpful in finding the latest trends. Embedded links in these lists made things even easier. My dad is also hard to shop for. I was able to find websites that offered great ideas and, thanks to Etsy, I think he is really going to like his gift.
I also loved the old-school toy catalogs stores like Walmart, Target and even Amazon sent in the mail this year. I have had a little bit of nostalgia flipping through them. For those with small kids at home, this is a fun alternative way to create their list for Santa while the pandemic continues.
Better check out fast!
I found that large retailers such as Walmart had a hectic digital Black Friday, which did not contribute to an overwhelmingly positive experience. I had to refresh my screen several times and update my cart because things quickly became unavailable. Picture this as the online version of people fighting over objects in line at the stores. Several choice words were used when products became unavailable. I found out that some websites like Coach Outlet and Kate Spade Outlet require you to sign-up online in order to access their online prices. They also had sold out of several items very early on in the morning, so if you wanted to buy an item you had to put it in your cart and check out quickly.
Make it free, shipping that is
In addition to visiting my trusted retailers, I discovered some new branded shops online this year. Brands like Shein and Nasty Gal, were offering great online promotions on their clothing and accessories. I loaded up on things for my daughters and my nieces and nephews. Free shipping, offered by most, was a major plus and something I considered when choosing where to shop. I avoided brands that had a minimum purchase amount of $75.00 or more to qualify for free shipping. It wasn’t worth it to me to pay the shipping cost.
Although I primarily shopped online over Cyber Weekend, I did venture out a little on Black Friday to compare online and in-store promotions. I found that every store that I entered had the exact same things online that they did in store as far as Black Friday sales. Some stores were still packed. For example, I placed my order online while I stood in line to get inside a crowded Victoria’s Secret, with free shipping. After seeing the long line to get into Target as well, I gave up and shopped online instead.
Honey, did you really order all this stuff?
I was pleasantly surprised with how convenient it was to shop online compared to in store. I still got the same feeling of joy and have enjoyed receiving packages almost daily. I have had some issues with delivery delays, especially with my Amazon purchases. I have Prime and am used to getting my packages delivered in 2-3 days, but lately it has taken around 7-10 days to get the packages. I have also noticed that several websites have noted a date you have to place your order by to get it by Christmas. I have used these timelines and not had any issues getting these packages quickly.
Unfortunately one package was delivered to the wrong house. Around 10pm one night I received a knock on my door and the package was magically dropped off, opened, and missing an item. I tried to find the companies phone number to contact customer service, but you can only e-mail them. I am still waiting to hear back. Hopefully this gets resolved before Christmas or I will have one sad kiddo.
Overall, I don’t feel I lost any of the happiness that I get from Black Friday shopping in stores by switching to online shopping in 2020. It still feels like Christmas in my house and I am very happy, as is my wallet, with all of the deals I found.