The holidays are essentially here. As shopping becomes more tech-enabled, how do consumers make sure they get the most bang for their buck?
Eric Glyman is the founder and CEO of Paribus, an app that automatically syncs your online shopping receipts, then scours the web for price drops and files digital claims on your behalf. He told Circa it's all about building up your arsenal of tech tools. Everything from apps to websites that can help you before, during and after you shop.
It's worth noting that each year, more and more consumers are shopping for gifts online. In 2016, Cyber Monday sales reached $3.45 billion and smashed expectations, becoming the biggest day in U.S. e-commerce history. This year, Deloitte is projecting 21 percent growth in online holiday sales.
First, Glyman says before you reach for your wallet, keep in mind of a tactic retailers use dubbed "dynamic pricing," in which they change the price of an item multiple times, sometimes even by the minute and based on your location.
"It's really taken off in recent years. It used to be that someone would have to walk around the store, tag a price on an item and that was generally it for the day," Glyman explains. "Now, online stores, with a little bit of code, can change the price any second."
This behavior, he said, makes it "incredibly hard for a customer to know when a price is good, when it's not, and when to buy."
Whether you plan to brave the Black Friday frenzy, or shop online on Cyber Monday, Glyman has pro-tips for leveraging tech to score the best deals.
Before you shop
"One of the sites I'll use is Honey," Glyman said. Upon signing up, Honey will automatically apply coupons that you missed at the checkout, and can help you save up to 25 to 30 percent.
While you shop
"Check out a site called camelcamelcamel.com when you're going to make a purchase," Glyman suggested. "On the site, you can quickly scan what the price history for the item you want to buy is, and whether it's at its low, median or high point. It can help you decide whether to buy now or hold off."
After you shop
Glyman (not surprisingly) suggested trying his app, Paribus. This year, American shoppers are expected to lose millions of dollars in unclaimed refunds from online retailers, according to data collected by Paribus. While many retailers participate in price matching, most shoppers don’t realize they’re entitled to refunds when the price on something they’ve purchased drops. This is just one example of how shoppers are missing out on all the deals.
While most consumers expect speedy, two-day delivery, this year, all consumers really crave is free shipping for their holiday purchases. Typically, shipping rates creep higher the closer we get to Christmas. But, as Retail Dive reports, about 65 percent of shoppers believe they should be able to place online orders after Dec. 17 and still get free shipping.
According to Paribus data, close to four percent of packages are delivered late. But, there is hope, Glyman said. "When you checkout and the store says that it's going to be delivered to you in two days, they're making a guarantee," he said. "And that means if you're paying for shipping and it's not there in two days, you can claim that difference back."
When should people shop?
Glyman says Mondays and Tuesdays tend to be the best days for deals. "That's when stores are sending out their coupons at the start of the week and really trying to get you back into the store and balance out the weekend rush," he said.
And between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, he expects better deals on Cyber Monday.
"If the store hasn’t made a lot of sales, more aggressive price drops tend to happen because all the stores are fighting to show results," he said. "It pays to shop around and look."
On the topic of waiting...
He also recommends waiting until the New Year to buy shiny new tech gadgets. "A couple extra days, a couple extra weeks, you can save a lot more," Glyman said.
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