Use online shopping to your advantage this holiday

Realizing that many shoppers can compare prices they see in the store on their smartphones, has some retailers ensuring their prices are competitive, says Jennifer Waters of Marketwatch. (AP)

Megan Cloherty, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – There will be more deals for online shoppers this season as retailers realize the technology at buyers’ fingertips has changed the game.

Retailers like Target, Macy’s, Toys ‘R Us and Nordstoms are so much more concerned this year with online shopping, that shoppers will notice a difference both online and in stores, says Jennifer Waters, who writes the Consumer Confidential column for Marketwatch.

Consider this holiday a buyers’ market. Retailers are offering changes this year that are a departure from the norm.

Price guarantee

Some retailers might agree to offer a price guarantee, Waters says. If you see what you’re looking for at a good price now, ask a manager if you can have the difference if the price goes down later.

“I think a lot of them will do that. They are so into it this year, more than I’ve noticed ever before and a lot of it is because you can be shopping online while you’re in their store,” Waters tells WTOP.

Free WiFi in stores

Realizing that many shoppers can compare prices they see in the store on their smartphones, has some retailers ensuring their prices are competitive.

Many will be offering consumers free Wi-Fi as a perk, not only so they can comparison shop, but as an incentive to spending time (and money) at that store versus another, Waters says.

“Showrooming”

It’s the term for buyers who visit stores to check out what they want before they buy it online. And retailers are aware it will be a trend this holiday, especially for buyers making big purchases. Oftentimes holding the item or seeing it in stores can help a buyer make up his mind.

To ensure shoppers make their “showroom” purchase on the retailer’s website, stores like Nordstroms and Macy’s are trying something new — offering same-day or one-day delivery for a quick turn around, getting the big purchase to the buyer faster.

Free shipping

“It’s a key component to much of the success of online sales,” says Waters. Many retailers she says, are trying to copy what Amazon does with their online holiday sales.

“People really just won’t pay for shipping anymore,” Waters says. So if you find you’re about to pay for shipping online, chances are you can find a better deal.

Flash sales

Just like the one-day deals available on Cyber Monday and Black Friday, shoppers will likely see more flash sales online this holiday. But they may not be highly publicized.

WTOP suggests setting up email alerts for the “musts” on your wish list this holiday, so you know when it’s on sale and where.

Waters says consumers can get really great deals online this season, but they have to be on top of what they are looking for and what retailers are doing.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)


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