In the United States, we have a special holiday that’s dedicated to standing in lines with strangers. It’s called Black Friday shopping. Savage and quick, this day is all about finding and buying the best deals – but others want to do the same, and stores have limited stock on hand.
Technology can give you an edge if you use it properly. Let’s look at a few ways you can use your computer or smartphone to grab hot deals before anyone else.
Friend Your Supermarket
Social networks are always a great place to find deals. Why? Because often, the competition is less than deals that are provided through other sources. Better still, you can act on a deal immediately, or at least take note of it.
Before Black Friday hits, you should find and Like any online and brick-and-mortar stores that have merchandise you’re looking to buy as a gift or for yourself. This will help you keep up to date on the latest information from those stores. Yes, your feed may become a little crowded as a result, but you can always, um, un-Like those stores later!
Form An Online Shopping Mob
If you know a lot of friends heading out for Black Friday, consider forming an online group with them using a social network. Even Twitter can work for this, if you all follow each other’s accounts on your phones.
Friends can provide you with useful information, such as the lines at stores, traffic, and hot deals. This could make your experience much easier. Where I live, for example, there are four Best Buys within 10 miles. Which will have the longest lines? Which will be inaccessible due to traffic? It’s hard to know until it happening. That’s where your friends come in.
Find The Best Route
Just making your way to a store can be half the challenge on Black Friday, even if you leave very early in the morning. The rush is worse than most rush hour traffic, as cars cram highways and major arteries in a blitz to arrive before everyone else. There’s many ways to navigate or map using computers, of course, but you can go beyond that. A tactic I find useful is to punch up directions in Google Maps, then turn on the traffic view. Turn off live traffic, and instead set it to Friday evening rush hour, which is usually the most intense traffic.
Now, examine your route again. Are major highways clogged? Find side-streets and plan an alternative route. Is the main road into a shopping center difficult to navigate? See if there is a back way in. Once you’ve done that, use a browser extension like Chrome to Phone to send that data over to your mobile. Now, your custom route is easily accessible after you leave on your expedition.
Upload Your Shopping List
Another quick and easy way to use your mobile is to upload your shopping list to it.
There are a couple of ways to do this. One is to use an app, like Out of Milk, which includes a website. You can enter in the items you are looking for on the site, then put the app on your phone to upload data. If you use an iPhone, an app like Grocery Gadget can do the same for you. Unfortunately, most of the good apps that can sync with your PC require that you pony up a few bucks.
If you’d rather not mess with a new app and website, Google Docs will do fine. Put your items into Docs as a document or spreadsheet, then open it on the go to make sure you don’t forget anything. Easy!
Some people plan Black Friday like a surgical strike. Get in, extract the target, and then get out!
If you’re not intimidated by the crowds, however, you may take time to find deals that weren’t on your list. The Black Friday frenzy can cloud your judgement, however. Is the item really a good deal, is the price the same as any other day?
Your phone can help. Amazon’s app includes a barcode based price checker that can be used to compare just about anything, and is particularly useful for price-checking electronics. There’s also a wide variety of coupon apps that you can download for reference purposes on both Android and iPhone.
These tips will give you the edge over most other people during Black Friday shopping, with the exception of those who set up tents outside stores to make sure they’re first in line. Neither Android or iPhone has an app that can solve crazy.
Of course, if you have any tips or tricks you’ve used on Black Friday, let us know in the comments. Don’t worry too much – the chances that someone will use them against you are low.
Image Credit : Michael Holden