How to stack your online savings on Cyber Monday
Published Thursday, November 23, 2017 6:00AM EST
CTVNews.ca has collected a handy list of tips, tricks, apps and websites that you can stack up to save big during Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the remainder of the Christmas season.
With Black Friday quickly becoming one of the hottest shopping days of the year, retailers are already beginning to launch their sales (or at least, their sale websites). Amazon, Walmart and eBay are just a few of the retailers who have already opened their Black Friday sites, in hopes of capitalizing on trigger-happy shoppers eager to get their buying done ahead of time.
“This is all just symbolic of the bloody battle, frankly, that’s going on in the retail sector,” retail expert Doug Stephens, founder of Retail Prophet, told CTV News Channel. Stephens says Black Friday is quickly morphing into Black November, with the sale window becoming more drawn out every year. He suggests this phenomenon may actually be deflating some of the enthusiasm around Black Friday, because the annual shopping bonanza is moving away from a one-day, high-pressure scenario.
Stephens says the best approach is to simply do your homework and buy the items you really want when they go on sale. “Find out what the normal price of that item is. If you truly think that you’re getting a good deal, then buy it.”
He adds that one should always hold onto the receipt, just in case a better deal on the same item appears in the near future. “If that item decreases in price later, go back and ask if you can get that discount.”
Regardless of when you do your shopping, here are a few ways to maximize your savings this holiday season.
If there’s one site you should bookmark this holiday season, it’s this one. Ebates.ca gives you a small amount of cash back for every online purchase you make at major retailers, so long as you click through the Ebates site first. The percentages aren't big (often between 1-10 per cent), but the savings still add up quickly when you’re buying a TV or booking a vacation. They also stack with other perks such as discount codes and sales.
Ebates offers cash back at most popular online merchants, including Amazon, Hudson’s Bay, eBay, Home Depot, Expedia, Indigo and Sephora. Ebates keeps a running tab of your cash back total, then send you the amount a few months later. The money you earn can be mailed to you by cheque, deposited in your PayPal account, turned into an Amazon gift card or donated to charity.
The site also offers cash back on a variety of gift cards for gas, groceries, restaurants, clothes and entertainment. The percentages are quite low, but they can add up to significant savings when you buy gift cards for weekly expenses like food (1.5 per cent at Real Canadian Superstore) or gas (1 per cent at Petro-Canada).
Discount codes and advance flyers
Several Canadian-focused websites collect digital coupons from a wide range of online retailers, so you can snag perks such as free shipping, buy-one-get-one or 10 per cent off with a promo code when shopping online. It’s always worth trying a few of these discount codes before hitting the “submit” button on your next online purchase. They’re usually crowdsourced, so some of the codes might be wrong or expired, but it’s still worth trying a few before moving on with your purchase.
Many of these sites also diligently collect all the major Black Friday and Cyber Monday flyers, so it's easy to take a sneak peek at what will be on offer this coming weekend.
If you can't be bothered to scroll through all the deals on one of these sites, add the Honey extension to your desktop browser and let it do the heavy lifting. The extension will cycle through promo codes when you reach the checkout screen, trying all the possible codes in its database in order to get you the best deal.
Those planning to brave the crowds for Black Friday deals will get plenty of use out of Flipp, a Canadian-made app that collects flyers from all the major retailers in a given area. The app stores loyalty cards and digital coupons for redemption in-store, so there's no need to carry a wad of plastic loyalty cards with you everywhere you go. It also allows you to search items so you can find the best deal.
The app is great to have on hand when you're at a store that allows price matching, as it will allow you to quote the cheaper price at other retailers offering the same product. This makes it an excellent tool for saving money on groceries as well, because many grocery stores will price match.
First-time buyer codes
Many online retailers offer special coupon codes on your first purchase, or whenever you sign up for an email newsletter. This can afford you an easy discount off the top of your purchase, and all you need to do later is unsubscribe from the email list.
It might even be wise to create a secondary email address for these offers, so you aren’t inundated with spam after making your purchase.
The website Lightning Drops is an excellent companion for your Amazon shopping needs, because it keeps a history of price fluctuations. That way you can identify when a deal is actually a deal. You can even ask the site to track items for you, so you receive an alert when it goes on sale.
Shopbot is also a useful tool for comparison shopping. The website collects information from a wide range of Canadian retailers to present the best deals in the country, so you can find the cheapest price on most items.
Google’s shopping tab offers another tool for comparing prices on a given item. Just Google the item and click “Shopping” at the top, then narrow down the search parameters as necessary.
Many retailers offer free shipping on purchases higher than a certain amount, before taxes, while others provide free pickup in-store. This can be an easy way to save money in the long run because it usually only requires you add one or two small items to hit the free threshold.
Of course, retailers are also aware of this, and will often price their items at just below the free shipping threshold (e.g. $24.95 instead of $25), so you can’t get free shipping on one item.
A good way to get around this is to add the cheapest item available to your cart, so you can get the free shipping and still save money in the end. If, for instance, you’re 5 cents shy of free shipping, look for an item such as stickers or shoelaces to get you over that hump. It might cost you $3 for something you don’t need, but it’ll be cheaper than paying $14 in shipping.
You can really max out your savings by combining several of these tricks for one purchase.
For example, let’s say you want to buy a women’s winter jacket from the Gap (regular $158, on sale for $110). In order to save the most money, you could:
- Buy a Gap gift card from Ebates (3 per cent cash back). Digital gift cards are delivered by email in two business days, so plan ahead. Use a credit card to earn points back on your purchase.
- Go to Ebates and click the link to the Gap store (6 per cent cash back).
- Search for discount codes on Retailmenot.
- Sign up for the Gap’s newsletter (30 per cent off). Use this if you don’t find a better discount code at Retailmenot. Some sites don’t allow you to stack sales and discount codes.
- Take advantage of the Gap’s free shipping on orders over $50 (automatic savings of $8).
The jacket should come to $87 with tax, and the cash back you save will arrive a few months later.
Using this approach will save you $33 before tax, plus nearly $8 cash back, plus an $8 savings on shipping. That’s nearly $50 in savings.
Whether you’re shopping primarily from home or braving the mall, there’s no avoiding the run-around that comes with the holiday season. So why not make that run-around work for you?
The free Carrot Rewards app counts your steps and rewards you with loyalty card points for hitting a certain goal each day. Those loyalty points can come in a variety of forms, including Scene Points, Petro Points and Aeroplan Miles. The app also periodically offers bonus points for clicking through brief quizzes designed to educate you about healthy eating, exercise and budgeting.
The app works with a smartwatch or a smartphone, so long as the phone is in your pocket.
It’s an easy, free, no-fuss way to earn a few extra loyalty card points while you’re wandering a department store this holiday season. And it might even earn you a free movie to enjoy with the family, once all your shopping is done.
The free app is available for Android and Apple phones and run in partnership with the federal government, as well as several provinces, including Ontario, B.C. and Newfoundland.