Clearing up the Confusion about Cyber Monday

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With all the hoopla over Black Friday, you can almost be forgiven if you forget about its closely-related cousin Cyber Monday. Notice we said almost. There’s nothing to not like about a day that’s devoted to grabbing great savings without ever moving from behind your computer, but if you’re going to capitalize on Cyber Monday deals, you need to know the facts. Here are the most common questions about Cyber Monday and the answers you need before you fire up your Paypal account.

When is Cyber Monday? Don’t laugh at this question because the answer isn’t as simple as it would seem. Cyber Monday, officially, is the Monday after Thanksgiving. This year, it will be Monday, December 2nd, 2013. Cyber Monday came to be when retailers noticed their online sales spiking in a major way on the Monday following Black Friday when everyone was back at work but, apparently, still in a shopping mood.

If you’re going to buy online you need to know that so-called ‘Cyber Weeks’ and online Black Friday deals often actually begin at midnight Black Friday morning, if not the evening of Thanksgiving itself. If you wait for the actual Cyber Monday to roll around before you start looking for deals online, you’re probably going to miss out on a lot.

What kind of Cyber Monday deals will there be? To put it succinctly, every kind. If you want to buy it, someone, somewhere is probably offering some sort of deal. The most popular Cyber Monday sales are what you’d expect: laptop deals, other electronics sales, appliance sales, and things like toys and video games that pop up on everyone’s Christmas lists.

Cyber Monday deals are similar to Black Friday deals, with one important distinction: Black Friday deals may be a bit better. There are two reasons for this, one being that Black Friday is still the bigger shopping event, and the other being that stock may run out by Monday. Retailers that really know what they’re doing will offer new deals on Cyber Monday to differentiate from Black Friday. However, with the rise of Cyber Weeks you can’t count on them to hold off on any really amazing offers.

blackfriday-2013Does every store recognize Cyber Monday? Yep. All the ones that recognize Black Friday, at any rate. Retailers want to attract your business, and if they can do so by slapping a marketing term on what would otherwise be a sluggish, leftover-fueled day, they’ll do it. Target, Walmart, Best Buy, Sears, Home Depot, Toys R Us – count them all in.

Is it worth trying to find deals in-store on Cyber Monday? It could be, depending on what kind of free time you have. Black Friday originally started as an in-store only shopping event and moved online as with the rise of the internet, so there’s no reason not to think the opposite couldn’t happen with Cyber Monday. People are no longer choosing between shopping in-store and online. They’re doing both and, in some cases, doing both simultaneously. People on their smartphones while in stores are now often comparison shopping. If retailers are smart and they’re serious about clearing out stock, they’ll take a look around before the doors open Monday morning and see what they could stand to get rid of at a new discount.

What will be the next trend in Cyber Monday? The key is for online retailers to keep shoppers from getting bored and clicking over to YouTube or Facebook or, heaven forbid, their work. One way to do this will be with time-limited flash deals, like on the websites Woot or NoMoreRack. In a flash sale, different items go on sale for a limited time only, like one hour. On Cyber Monday, flash sales would prompt shoppers to keep checking back for the new round of discounts. Amazon has already clued into this with their deals-of-the-day, and we don’t think it will be long before this trend extends to Cyber Monday.