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Cyber Monday Online Shopping Guide 2011 – Best Websites & Deals

By David Bakke

woman shopping online couchAlthough Black Friday is a great day to get your holiday shopping done, don’t forget about Cyber Monday. In 2010, consumers spent over a billion dollars on Cyber Monday and sales that day topped Black Friday sales by 31.1%.

More and more, consumers are opting for the convenience of online shopping. But things can get a little crazy even online, and a little direction on where to find the best deals by category can help. Although most of these stores are solely Internet-based, keep in mind that many brick and mortar retailers will offer special pricing for their products on Cyber Monday as well.

Small Electronics

This popular category includes digital cameras, GPS devices, iPods, video game systems, and more. Here are a few stores with the best deals:

eBay
Pricing on eBay is very competitive and they have a wide selection. Plus, most people won’t have to pay sales tax on purchases. If you want to take a chance on a used or refurbished item, eBay is the place to go.

Either way, just make sure the seller has a respectable feedback rating. Also, shipping costs are determined by the seller and are not standard across the site. If you find a small electronic device at a great price on eBay, make sure the shipping costs don’t negate the savings. eBay also has a “Deals” section where you can find the best prices of the day.

Finally, research the seller’s return policy as many vendors offer no returns whatsoever. Be aware that eBay sellers can choose how to list the condition of their item with little or no oversight. This is why a strong seller rating and a good number of product pictures are ideal prerequisites to purchasing.

Amazon
I launched a re-selling business on Amazon several years ago, so I can certainly vouch for their competitive pricing. They have a wide selection of all things electronic, and their product listings come with detailed descriptions of specs, features, and benefits.

On Cyber Monday, look for their limited time Lightning Deals, which offer rock-bottom pricing. If you don’t know exactly what to get someone, try the “Gifts & Wish List” tab. Also, unlike eBay, Amazon has very strict regulations regarding the item condition and description. If the item is listed as “new,” it is exactly the same as purchasing it at a retailer. If it is listed as “like new,” it is basically one step short of being brand new. This usually includes open-box, unused items. Be sure to check out the seller’s feedback rating and return policy as well. You can select standard, expedited or overnight shipping, and depending on where you live, you won’t pay sales tax here either.

Best Buy
Best Buy has aggressive Cyber Monday pricing, and certain purchases come with a $50 Best Buy gift card for free. If you shop here a lot, this is a great benefit. While the selection at retail Best Buy locations is diverse, it is even better online. They also offer free shipping on all orders through December 27th.

hd camera

Laptop Computers

Amazon
I have sold hundreds of laptops on Amazon through my re-selling business, so I know it is a great place to get one. Their prices are very competitive, and their pre-set shipping fees are cheaper than those of other websites. With their detailed product descriptions, comparison shopping on Amazon is very convenient.

Plus, if you ever have a problem with an order, the website will work with you directly to see that it can be fixed to your satisfaction. Don’t forget to check out their “Gifts & Wish List” tab if you still don’t know what to get someone on your list. And look for Lightning Deals posted throughout the day. Like the name implies, these are only available for a limited time. Also, if you buy from a re-seller, choose one with excellent feedback ratings and acceptable return policies.

eBay
The selection on eBay is somewhat better than at Amazon. Plus, quite often, you can find an “open box” deal on a laptop at a great price – which is just like buying it new. Always purchase from a reputable seller and check out their return policy. Shipping from eBay sellers runs the gamut from free to exorbitant and can sometimes negate an otherwise “great deal” if you’re not careful. Also, don’t forget to check out their “Deals” page where you can find the best pricing site-wide.

Newegg
This website is a bit under the radar, but I have purchased many laptops from Newegg over the years. They have a solid selection and their sales prices are impressive. Depending on your state, you won’t pay sales tax here either, and their checkout process is about as easy as it comes. They offer a thirty-day return policy on most items, and select items qualify for free shipping.

HP
Normally, manufacturer websites do not have great pricing, but this is not true with HP. Particularly around the holidays, they offer large discounts on computers. They also offer a benefit that not many other websites can compete with.

At HP, you can customize your laptop with the exact specs you want. You can choose the size of your hard-drive and the amount of RAM you want, customize graphics, and add software and other accessories to create the exact laptop you are looking for.

They also offer free shipping for orders over $40, and have a same as cash offer if you use PayPal and pay off the account in less than six months. Bear in mind, however, that their return policy is only intact for 21 days after purchase.

Dell
Dell offers a lot of the same benefits that HP does. You can customize your laptop down to the last detail. Plus, their discounts rival those of HP. They also offer free shipping on all laptops.

In my experience, however, their shipping times tend to lag HP’s, and they almost always require a signature upon delivery. If you live alone and work outside the home, this can mean an extra trip to pick up your item. Their return policy is also only good for 21 days.

woman new laptop

Televisions

Most TV purchases will qualify for free or low-cost shipping, which can make shopping online for these items an even better deal than buying in-store. Here are the best websites to consider:

Amazon
They have a great selection of flat panel TVs and offer free two-day shipping. Flat screen TVs sold by vendors on Amazon carry minimal shipping fees. Check for a solid feedback rating and return policy if you choose to buy from a re-seller.

In particular, take a look at their limited time Lightning Deals posted throughout the day as you never know what will come up. Also, there is no sales tax associated with items purchased from Amazon, depending on your state.

eBay
The selection on eBay is comparable to Amazon’s. And for stellar discounts, check out their “Deals” page. That said, beware of purchasing any used or refurbished flat panel TVs here. Typically, if there is an issue, the purchaser must pay for return shipping, which on a large TV can be steep.

As always, research the seller’s feedback rating and return policy, if any, before making your final choice. Like Amazon, you don’t pay sales tax for purchases, depending on your state.

Walmart
The selection will not be as good as either Amazon or Ebay, but Walmart has both stores beat when it comes to price. Shopping at Walmart.com allows you to avoid the crowds and hassle of their retail locations. Plus, they offer free shipping on most TVs and a free ship-to-store option on all online purchases.

If price is more important to you than brand name or quality, then Walmart is the place to go. However, keep in mind that their Price Match Guarantee does not apply to online purchases.

BrandsMart
BrandsMart has a huge selection of flat-panel TVs and their pricing is among the best. However, a few of their TVs are available in-store only. That said, if you can find the TV you want available on their website, it will most likely carry a cheaper price than anywhere else. Most flat-screens qualify for free shipping as well.

Best Buy
Best Buy retail locations offer a wide variety of flat screens, but their website has an even bigger selection. They offer free shipping on everything, or you can choose the free store pickup option if you need it the same day.

tv remote

Clothing

If you are considering purchasing clothing online on Cyber Monday, there are a few things to be aware of. For example, clothing sizes at some stores may run larger or smaller than standard sizing. If you already know what size you or your recipients typically wear from a specific store, go for it. Otherwise, make sure you understand the return policy as you’re more likely to return an online clothing purchase than any other type of purchase.

Old Navy
Old Navy a fantastic selection and their clearance deals are quite competitive – expect deals of up to 75% off on Cyber Monday. Since you can also “stack” your coupons at Old Navy, search online for coupon and discount codes before you buy. The clothing they sell is typcially good quality and built to last. Orders over $50 ship for free.

Kohl’s
Kohl’s has been a diamond in the rough of mine for a long time. If you sign up for a Kohl’s charge card, your savings potential improves dramatically. Coupons stack here also, and their clearance selection is comparable to that of Old Navy. Additional discount codes are easy to find online, but their clothing deals will already be some of the best on Cyber Monday.

Orders over $50 qualify for free shipping. Specifically, use promo code CYBER20 to receive an additional 20% off your order, and stack coupon code GOBBLE15 for another 15% off.

Walmart
If price is your sole qualifier, then Walmart is the place to go. Their selection is not as great for clothing, but their prices are typically number one across the board. They also offer a free ship-to-store option. Otherwise, they offer free shipping on select orders over $45. Keep in mind that their holiday Price Match Guarantee does not apply to online purchases.

woman online shopping clothes

Appliances

Walmart
Walmart carries a wide assortment of small appliances and their pricing is among the best. They typically do not offer the top brand names like GE, Kenmore, and Whirlpool, but if price is your main concern, then Walmart is a great place to go. They offer free shipping on select orders over $45 and a free ship-to-store option. Keep in mind, however, that their holiday Price Match Guarantee does not qualify for online orders.

Sears
Sears‘ selection for appliances is among the best. They offer free shipping for qualified orders and just like Best Buy, they have a free in-store pickup option if you need it the same day. They are currently running quite an ad campaign touting their unbelievable prices. However, as with all retailers, you can’t necessarily take them at their word. For example, if an item normally sells for $200, but is priced at 50% off of $500 on Cyber Monday, it is no deal at all.

Home Depot
The selection at Home Depot is solid and they have competitive pricing on Cyber Monday. For larger appliances, they offer free delivery and haul away. Other than that, they offer free shipping on most online orders over $45. If you choose their free in-store pick up option, your item should be ready within two hours of purchasing.

Lowe’s
Lowe’s offers discounts of up to 45% on Cyber Monday. They feature free shipping on orders over $49, and their selection is comparable to Home Depot’s. Their free in-store pick up option is pretty impressive – your order is guaranteed to be ready twenty minutes after you make your purchase.

Kohl’s
They typically run under the radar, but their pricing is fantastic. Kohl’s offers free shipping for all orders over $50, and if you sign up for a Kohl’s charge card, the savings are even better. You can stack coupon codes at Kohl’s, so research the Internet for codes and discounts to maximize your savings. Their selection is better than you might expect.

Use promo code CYBER20 for an additional 20% off your purchase, and stack coupon code GOBBLE 15 for another 15% off.

kitchen appliances setup

Toys

Toys”R”Us
The online selection at Toys”R”Us is better than what they have in-store. However, be careful when shopping here. If a toy that typically sells for $20 is listed at $50 on Cyber Monday, but is half off, then it isn’t a deal.

They offer free shipping on any order over $50 and also have a store pick up option. Their website is very user-friendly and lets you easily comparison shop if you are not sure exactly which toy you want to purchase.

eToys
eToys flies under the radar, but I have used them quite often in the past. What I like most is their nifty shop-by-age feature. With most other online retailers, you have to click on a particular toy to see what the age recommendations are, but here you can click on an age group to see recommended toys. They offer free shipping on orders over $69.

Target
I have been a fan of Target for years now for several reasons. First, the Target REDcard gets me an additional 5% off every purchase I make, which is on top of any sales price. Second, my son is very discriminating when it comes to toys, and we have both concluded that Target offers not only the best selection of toys, but also the best prices. This can make for huge discounts on Cyber Monday.

They also offer free shipping on orders over $50. For Cyber Monday, they are offering discounts of up to 50% for online toy purchases.

kids toys

Home Improvement Items

You can find great home improvement deals online as long as you are not blindsided by ridiculous delivery fees for larger items. Here are some of the top websites:

Home Depot
Their pricing is competitive and they will be sure to have great Cyber Monday deals. If there is an upcoming home improvement project for someone on your list, Home Depot is a great place to start. They have a variety of home furnishings and accessories. Plus, they offer free delivery and haul away on large appliances and have affordable financing options available.

Lowe’s
I would give Lowe’s the edge in home furnishings. They offer rugs, ceiling fans, mirrors, and more. Their Cyber Monday ad has some items up to 50% off. Qualified orders over $49 ship for free.

Overstock
I have used the Overstock website extensively in the past for home furnishings. Their selection is solid and their pricing is fantastic. They offer free shipping on all orders as well.

home improvement tools

Gift Cards

If you just can’t find the right gift for someone on your list, there is nothing wrong with giving them a gift card. However, there is no reason to pay full price as there are a variety of websites dedicated to selling discounted gift cards. Also, keep these websites in mind after the holidays. You can use them to sell your unwanted or unused gift cards too.

Plastic Jungle
You can find discounts of up to 35% off gift cards at the Plastic Jungle. They are the web’s largest gift card exchange site, shipping is always free, and gift cards from Plastic Jungle have no expiration dates or hidden fees. They also offer electronic gift cards, which means you are simply sent a code good for online shopping. For more information, see our Plastic Jungle Review.

Gift Card Granny
Gift Card Granny sells cards up to 55% off face value and they also serve as a sort of gift card Google. Basically, it’s a gift card search engine which points you in the direction of the best discounts available. Shipping varies by vendor.

Gift Card Rescue
At Gift Card Rescue, you can save up to 30% off your gift card purchase, and gift cards are available from over 250 major retailers. Plus, shipping is always free. In fact, if you sell one of your own gift cards and choose an Amazon gift card as your choice of payment, they will increase the redemption value by 5%.

Final Word

The very best deals will be available to dedicated shoppers who get online the moment Cyber Monday begins and are prepared with a plan. But don’t stop there. Combine your Black Friday shopping strategy with Cyber Monday shopping tips to maximize your purchasing power.

In other words, make a list of what you want to get and research the deals on both days beforehand. Then, decide where it makes the most sense to get those items and plan accordingly. And if you find a sales price online that is comparable to an in-store location, consider avoiding the high stress and craziness of Black Friday and purchase it on Cyber Monday instead.

(photo credit: Shutterstock)

David Bakke
David started his own personal finance blog, YourFinances101, in June of 2009 and published his first book on ways to save more and spend less called "Don't Be A Mule..." Since then he has been a regular contributor for Money Crashers. He lives just outside Atlanta, GA and most all of his free time is taken up by his amazing three year old son, Nicholas.

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  • Ricohitman

    I just checked and you cannot combine gobble15 with cyber20 on kohls website.

    • Davidbakke

      Rico

      I just recently got this to work. I think it might be a hit and miss kind of thing, but it worked for me.

      Thanks for commenting.

  • Karmella

    Plowing through my intense dislike of Diqus to say thanks for such a thorough roundup!!

    • Davidbakke

      Karmella

      Were glad you liked it!

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