Getting Ready To Shop Online

This Friday marks “Black Friday,” the traditional start to the Christmas holiday shopping season.

All told, The National Retail Federation estimates Americans will spend $655 billion dollars this holiday season, up about $30 billion from 2015 (http://bit.ly/2g6DvHG).

About $117 billion is expected to be spent online.

According to comScore, an analytics company, shoppers this year are expected to make 51 percent of their purchases online (http://for.tn/2gozn8y).

And a large chunk of those purchases will come on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

The online world will be offering thousands of digital deals, hoping your clicks will translate into their dollars.

Amazon, of course, will try to dominate all Black Friday online sales — indeed, it will try to dominate all digital sales starting with Black Friday, rolling into Cyber Monday, through Christmas and through the end of the year.

After Thanksgiving dinner is over, family members will sort through all the newspaper ads and inserts and plot a shopping strategy that will start before the sun rises on Friday.

Increasingly, that shopping strategy is being augmented with a digital component.

MNI, a targeted media planning and buying company, put together an analysis of holiday shopping trends for this year (http://bit.ly/2fpwxMy).

Among the findings:
– Online and mobile shopping is on the rise (no real surprise there)
– People are shopping across multiple devices
– The 2016 holiday shopping season is longer than ever, having started in September for a number of online retailers.

An interesting part of the MNI research is the strategies people use in shopping online across multiple devices. Here’s how they summarize it:

“Shoppers are beginning preliminary research on their desktops and sometimes on their mobiles. During these early stages, consumers have the time to leisurely shop and browse at their own pace. Once they are shopping in-store, they are turning to their mobiles to compare prices and look up reviews on specific products. People are ultimately completing online purchases on their desktops, because they feel more secure making large-ticket purchases on their desktops rather than mobile.”

More and more, the real world shopping experience is being extended into the digital world as people research online products they are looking at in store.

If you’re looking to get an idea of what products and deals will be trending online this year, simply go to your favorite store’s Web site. Chances are, they already have already posted many of the items they plan to offer on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

For the past several weeks, for example, Amazon, Walmart and Best Buy have been promoting nearly all their Black Friday specials.

In fact, you’ll find many of the large retailers have been running pre-Black Friday sales for at least a week or so.

There are also a number of Web sites that are acting as aggregators of all the digital deals coming this year. Among them:

BlackFriday
https://www.blackfriday.com

DealsNews
http://www.dealnews.com/black-friday/

NerdWallet
https://nerd.me/2fNyhzV

The Bustle
http://bit.ly/2eP782n

You can find more simply by searching on the terms “2016 black friday deals.”

And check out techradar, which has a great collection of tips and tricks for making the best of Black Friday online: http://bit.ly/2fptST7.

Keith Darnay is the Tribune’s online manager and has worked in the online world for more than two decades. His site is at www.darnay.com.

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