If Black Friday crowds were just too much -- or the deals just weren't enough -- shoppers can rejoice in another big day on the retail calendar.
Check out these tips and tricks for shopping online and with your mobile device on Cyber Monday, and through the rest of the season.
History and Expectations
Cyber Monday has its roots in the old desktop computer and wired internet. Shoppers would return to the office after thanksgiving holiday, and hop online.
Even with access to the internet in pockets, purses, couches and cafes, retailers say Cyber Monday hasn't lost its luster.
“We know that Cyber Monday is really going to draw the crowds,” said Shop.org Executive Director Vicki Cantrell.
The National Retail Federation says eight in ten retailers will offer special Cyber Monday deals.
Links to Cyber Monday Deals
Look for Best Deals
Laura Harders of the blog, Beltway Bargain Mom, says it is important to be able to separate the good deals, from the great deals.
“Take advantage of deal sites as well as online databases that help collect all that information in one place. It really takes the hard work out of it for you,” said Harders.
Sites like Savings.com and Pricegrabber.com, pull coupons and deals from multiple retailers. Also the deep online discounts will go beyond Cyber Monday.
“Last year the days Cyber Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday were all over a billion dollars online,” Cantrell said.
Free Shipping Day
After cyber week, Harders says she has noticed another trend.
“Around December 15th, a lot of discounts on jeweler, handbags, other apparel items,” Harders said. “They're trying to clear their inventory, and they know us as consumers are looking to buy all of those holiday gifts.”
That times well with the annual free shipping day. That’s when hundreds of retailers take part in on Dec. 18, with delivery guaranteed by Christmas.
Better Business Bureau's Top 10 Cyber Monday Tips
The BBB is warning consumers to beware of unscrupulous online retailers, scammers and hackers. Check out their top 10 online holiday shopping tips:
1. Protect your computer – A computer should always have the most recent updates installed for spam filters, anti-virus and anti-spyware software and a secure firewall.
2. Shop on trustworthy websites – Shoppers should start at www.bbb.org to check on the seller’s reputation and record for customer satisfaction. It’s a good idea to look for the BBB logo and other widely-recognized seals on retailer websites, but make sure they are real (some rogue sites plagiarize seals to look legitimate).
4. Beware of deals that sound too good to be true – Offers on websites and in unsolicited e-mails can often sound too good to be true, especially extremely low prices on hard-to-get items. Consumers should always go with their instincts and not be afraid to pass up a “deal” that might cost them dearly in the end.
5. Beware of phishing – Legitimate businesses do not send e-mails claiming problems with an order or an account to lure the “buyer” into revealing financial information. If a consumer receives such an e-mail, BBB recommends picking up the phone and calling the contact number on the website where the purchase was made to confirm that there really is a problem with the transaction.
6. Confirm your online purchase is secure – Shoppers should always look in the address box for the “s” in https:// and in the lower-right corner for the “lock” symbol before paying. If there are any doubts about a site, BBB recommends right-clicking anywhere on the page and select “Properties.” This will let you see the real URL (website address) and the dialog box will reveal if the site is not encrypted.
7. Pay with a credit card – It’s best to use a credit card, because under federal law, you can dispute the charges if you don’t receive the item. Your also have dispute rights if there are unauthorized charges on your credit card, and many card issuers have “zero liability” policies under which the card holder pays nothing if someone steals the credit card number and uses it. If you are going to shop on classifieds web sites like Craigslist, never wire money and only buy locally where you can see the item before you hand over your money.
8. Keep documentation of your order - After completing the online order process, there may be a final confirmation page or the shopper might receive confirmation by e-mail – BBB recommends saving a copy of the web page and any e-mails for future reference and as a record of the purchase.
9. Check your credit card statements often – Don’t wait for paper statements; BBB recommends consumers check their credit card statements for suspicious activity by either calling credit card companies or by looking at statements online regularly.
10. Know your rights – Federal law requires that orders made by mail, phone or online be shipped by the date promised or, if no delivery time was stated, within 30 days. If the goods aren’t shipped on time, the shopper can cancel and demand a refund. There is no general three-day cancellation right, but consumers do have the right to reject merchandise if it’s defective or was misrepresented. Otherwise, it’s the company’s policies that determine if the shopper can cancel the purchase and receive a refund or credit.
Click here for more on online shopping safety -- and for reports on thousands of online retailers -- from the Better Business Bureau.