Shopping Tips

The Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, has some tips to help you get the most for your money.

  1. Shop around. A “sale” price isn’t always the “best” price. Some merchants may offer a sale price on an item for a limited time; others may discount the price on the same item everyday. Having an item’s manufacturer, model number, and other identifying information can help you get the best price for the item you want.
  2. Read sale ads carefully. Some may say “quantities limited,” “no rain checks,” or “not available at all stores.” Before you step out the door, call ahead to make sure the merchant has the item in stock. If you’re shopping for a popular or hard-to-find item, ask the merchant if he’d be willing to hold the item until you can get to the store.
  3. Take time and travel costs into consideration. If an item is on sale, but it’s way across town, how much are you really saving once you factor in your time, your transportation, and parking?
  4. Look for price-matching policies. Some merchants will

Shopping Online

Online buying and selling has become an important part of many people’s lives. Students and parents rely on the internet to acquire and sell textbooks at affordable prices, virtual stores allow people to shop from the comfort of their homes without the pressure of a salesperson, and online marketplaces provide a new and more convenient venue for the exchange of virtually all types of goods and services.

Both businesses and customers have embraced online sales as a cheaper and more convenient way to shop, but just like anything associated with the internet, there are benefits and dangers associated with shopping online. Read on to learn how to protect yourself while you use this handy resource. (To read more on online buying, see Keep Your Financial Data Safe Online and 10 Things To Consider Before Selecting An Online Broker.)

Mechanics: How Does Online Buying Work?
Shopping online is just like heading out to the store. You can buy all the same things from your home computer and can sometimes even get access to better sales.

Finding a Product
When you shop online,

The experience of shopping

Traditional retailers have suffered more than they probably realize at the hands of Amazon and other online companies. As volume trickles from the stores and sales per square foot decline, the response of most retailers is almost automatic: Cut labor, reduce costs, and sacrifice service. But that only exacerbates the problem. With even less service to differentiate the stores, customers focus increasingly on price and convenience, which strengthens the advantages of online retailers.

If traditional retailers hope to survive, they have to turn the one big feature that internet retailers lack—stores—from a liability into an asset. Stores will continue to exist in any foreseeable future—and they can be an effective competitive weapon. Research shows that physical stores boost online purchases: One European retailer, for instance, reports that it captures nearly 5% of online sales in areas near its physical stores, but only 3% outside those areas. Online and offline experiences can be complementary.

The traditional store, however, won’t be sufficient. For too many people, shopping in a store is simply a chore to be endured: If they can find

As shopping online consistently grows more popular

In fact, some companies are even starting their online deals early. Wal-Mart’s “Cyber Week” begins on Black Friday. You can get Best Buy’s crazy good deals now

 As shopping online consistently grows more popular, Cyber Monday (or Cyber Week) is sure to be another success this year. So sit back, relax and get all of your discounted items online.

Check out these online discounts you don’t want to miss.

Echo smart speaker

Amazon’s Echo smart speaker is rumored to drop to $139.99, and its Echo Dot speaker accessory to only $39.99.

Kindle e-reader

There’s much talk over price drops for Amazon’s popular e-readers. The Kindle Paperwhite will allegedly be available for $99.99 on Nov. 28.

Dell laptop

According to a leaked Cyber Monday ad, Dell is planning on some major price cuts on products for the online shopping frenzy. From 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., score a Dell XPS 8900 laptop for only $699.99 (typically $1,049.99).

Xbox and Playstation

Dell will offer an XBox One bundle for only $249.99. For those who prefer Sony’s system, the PS4 Slim 500 GB Uncharted 4 Bundle will be on sale for $279.99.

Deals Early as Black Friday Loses Focus

Black Friday, as the day after Thanksgiving is called, has traditionally started the holiday shopping season in the United States and was the day when retailers turned a profit, thus going from “being in the red” to “in the black.”

Many retailers have started opening their stores on Thanksgiving evening to boost customer traffic and sales.

 But the number of Thanksgiving weekend shoppers fell by nearly a third to 102 million in 2015, from 147 million in 2012, according to the National Retail Federation. Moreover, early holiday promotions and online shopping hurt in-store spending by more than 6 percent last year, it said.

U.S. retailers, however, have redoubled efforts this year to boost sales with familiar tactics but greater intensity. Wal-Mart has already said it will increase inventory by more than half this year and make deals typically reserved for Black Friday available online early Thanksgiving morning.

Retail pricing and data analytics firm Market Track said an analysis of 15 top U.S. brick-and-mortar retailers and their Black Friday circular announcements online showed they were about three days earlier than last year.

“They are all trying to beat each other to the punch

The best and busiest time of the year for all kinds of marketers

The best and busiest time of the year for all kinds of marketers. The time when sales and marketing team can meet their pending targets in a short span of time. This presents a huge opportunity for retailers, only if they know how to cash in on the season of gift-giving and group events. On the other hand, the evolution of social media has made it mandatory for marketers to come up with fresh ideas to increase customer engagement and drive sales. If you still haven’t been able to formulate ground-breaking strategies to engage your customers, you’re definitely losing out on some great conversions.

Customers are usually inundated with holiday promotions pertaining to offers, deals and discounts. Marketers understand the expedience of offering enticing promotions and that this is the time of the year when customers tend to spend more time browsing for

Anticipating Customers’ Holiday Shopping Habits

In 2015, between Black Friday and Christmas Eve, ecommerce sales increased by 20 percent over the same period in 2014. When this year’s 2016’s, holiday-shopping sprint ends this month, ecommerce figures are expected to rise yet again — an estimated 17.2 percent.

It’s no secret that the holiday season is huge for retailers — both on and offline — but that doesn’t mean we should let the period play out unaided. Leveraging customer data to better prepare for next year’s, 2017’s, holiday season (even as you’re finishing out this year’s holiday) will pay. The first step? Anticipate customers’ holiday shopping habits to maximize this critical time of year.

 Learn what motivates your customers to buy.

Every purchase is driven by a very specific motivation. That motivation won’t be the same each and every time we buy something, nor will someone making the exact same purchase necessarily share our motivation. But, at its most basic, the reason we buy generally belongs to one of two categories:

  • A want
  • A need

Dig a little deeper, however, and you’ll see countless factors that influence our decision to buy.

  • We’re celebrating.
  • We want to reward ourselves.
  • We feel down and want to cheer ourselves up.
  • We know we’ll have a

Mind-Blowing Stats About Online Shopping

Online shopping has become a multibillion-dollar revenue stream–not to mention it has completely turned the path to purchase on its head.

What retailer doesn’t want a piece of that growing pie? This is where multichannel marketing comes into play. Any successful online marketing strategy, however, begins with understanding–and then catering to–consumers’ various shopping patterns and preferences.

To start you on your way, here is a glimpse into the online purchase habits of the modern-day shopper.

1. Online shopping retail sales are predicted to grow steadily to $370 billion in 2017, up from $231 billion in 2012.

2. Consumers ages 25 to 34 lead the way in smartphone usage in-store, comparing prices, reading reviews, buying products, and engaging with brands on social media while in physical stores.

3. Seventy-two percent of Millennials research and shop their options onlinebefore going to a store or the mall.

4. Nearly 50 percent of Millennials say they regularly browse for items that they don’t necessarily plan on buying.  Thirty-six percent say they only buy items they deem necessary–for which one-third are willing to pay full price.

5. Online retail revenue saw an 11 percent year-over-year growth rate for the first quarter of 2014, with online orders up 13 percent compared

Future Shopping

Historically, retail is the dipstick of social change; what made a good store in 1600, or in 1900, or even 2000, and what makes a good store today are different.

Those differences are a reflection of the evolution of us. The changes have been about gender, or who we sell what to; economic circumstances; and, of course, technology, which has altered both our ability to understand and access goods.

Retail change is accelerating as the mantle of consumption is passed from a retiring generation of baby boomers to a millennial generation that is in its genetic prime: finding partners, having children and pumping up spending. But particularly in North America, that millennial generation is also battling downward mobility and the appetite for goods that many cannot afford.

Thirty years down the road, much of the change in retail is going to be driven by a complete reformulation of the relationship between how we make the stuff, how we sell the stuff and how

Consumer shopping behavior

The chasm between online retail and its brick-and-mortar counterpart is expanding, and people’s shopping preferences are evolving in turn. For storefronts, traffic and sales are declining, leaving retailers with little choice but to adapt to an interconnected world and to their customers’ shifting expectations of the shopping experience.

A great deal of research focuses on how consumers shop, but the rationale behind their chosen behaviors remains somewhat underserved. This article bridges that gap by capturing consumers’ decision-making processes—in their own words, from in-depth interviews (indicated throughout the article in italicized text), and combining these insights with secondary research that adds context, resulting in a closer look into the minds of modern retail consumers.

The shopping journey and its R’s

Three factors are evolving the shopping process and empowering consumers. Lucky for us, they all begin with the letter R: research, recommendations, and returns.

The proliferation of digital technology is giving consumers access to an unprecedented amount of product information. Not only is more information available, consumers are increasingly accessing this information—and doing their own “homework” before visiting a retailers’ venue to make their purchase. In 2014, a Deloitte study1 found that digital data influenced 49 percent

Distinction between online and offline shopping

Consumers no longer see a distinction between online and offline shopping. Whether it’s searching on a laptop, browsing main street shops or hanging out at the mall — it’s all shopping. To adapt to the competitive new reality, smart retailers are drawing on classic retailing truths of the past and augmenting them for the now.

Innovative retailers are embracing this new reality, using digital to extend their storefronts. These are my top five observations on how shopping has changed and suggestions for how marketers can adapt to join the retail revolution.

1. Shoppers know as much as salespeople

Then: People came into stores with little to no knowledge and relied on a salesperson to advise them on what to buy.

Now: Today’s shoppers have become accustomed to doing their own research to get the maximum value out of every dollar they spend, and to feel secure about the purchases they’re making. With this power shift comes a great opportunity for retailers; those that use tools and insights from the web have the opportunity to close the gap between the smart online consumer and the offline retailer, and to stand out in a competitive marketplace. Every moment in

shopping could be called one of America’s favorite

 The mall with your girlfriends on a Saturday afternoon, to holiday spending on gifts that go under the tree, shopping could be called one of America’s favorite pastimes.For most people, it means some new clothes for work or a small trinket for a friend. For others, however, shopping is much more than an enjoyable pastime, and in some cases, it is a real and destructive addiction that can turn into a financial disaster.

“Compulsive shopping and spending are defined as inappropriate, excessive, and out of control,” says Donald Black, MD, professor of psychiatry at the University of Iowa College of Medicine. “Like other addictions, it basically has to do with impulsiveness and lack of control over one’s impulses. In America, shopping is embedded in our culture; so often, the impulsiveness comes out as excessive shopping.”

Sometimes referred to as “shopoholism,” shopping addiction can wreak havoc on a person’s life, family, and finances. Experts explain to WebMD why shopping can be so addictive, what the warning signs are, and how to stop the cycle of spending.

“No one knows what causes addictive behaviors, like shopping, alcoholism, drug abuse, and gambling,” says Ruth Engs, EdD, a

Closed its more than wedding dress

The reason: Alfred Angelo abruptly closed its more than 60 wedding dress stores on Wednesday, leaving brides racing to figure out if they would get the gowns they had already ordered. On Friday, the company filed for bankruptcy.

The closings added an element of panic to a wedding process often filled with stress, and brides and bridesmaids shared their exasperation on Twitter and Facebook. They rushed to figure out the status of their orders, and store employees were left trying to explain the situation.

Cyndi Whitten of Houston, whose daughter had ordered a $1,500 gown from Alfred Angelo for her wedding in October, said: “This has turned into the most difficult and stressful part of the whole thing. You just wanted to sit there and burst into tears because your daughter’s easy part of the wedding isn’t so easy. The company, which opened in 1933, did not respond to phone calls and emails seeking comment. Patricia Redmond, a lawyer who represents Alfred Angelo, did not return a phone call.

Redesign Shopping from Scratch

The first part of any such strategy is facing reality. Retailing executives must acknowledge that the new technologies will get faster, cheaper, and more versatile. They need to forecast the likely digital density in their categories and prepare for the effects. What should I do differently today if I believe that 20% of our sales will soon come from digital retailing—and that 80% of our sales will be heavily influenced by it? Should we be opening any new stores at all? And if so, how different should they be? How should we adjust to a world of greater price transparency? What happens when traffic-building categories shift online and no longer pull customers into our stores?

Situations like these call for start-from-scratch, across-the-board innovation. In the book Idealized Design: How to Dissolve Tomorrow’s Crisis…Today, coauthor Russell L. Ackoff recounts a similar turning point at Bell Labs in 1951. The vice president in charge of the labs asked a group to name the organization’s most important contributions to telephonic communications. The VP pointed out that each one, including the telephone dial and the coaxial cable, had been conceived and implemented before 1900. He challenged the group to assume that the phone system was dead

Highland Park coffee shop

The Ravinia Coffee Station has introduced a new Sunday morning perk to the neighborhood: live music.

Weather permitting, it’s a scene out of the classic Creedence Clearwater song. Down on the corner and out on the sidewalk, owner Josh Weisbart and a recurring line-up of musicians play acoustic music to lift the spirits of customers and passersby. “It’s wonderful to find live music just happening,” said Laura Davis Sherman of Highland Park. “It’s a really great pause in the week.”

The Ravinia Coffee Station, 723 St. John’s Ave. in Highland Park, opened last November. Weisbart, who plays guitar and mandolin, bills himself as “a casual musician.” Taking his cue from the summer-long Ravinia Festival, Weisbart said he “always intended for music to be part of the big picture” of the to-go coffee shop located on the corner of St. Johns and Roger Williams avenues. “Music has the ability to bring people together,” he said.

On this Sunday morning, a larger crowd than usual gravitated toward the coffee shop in response to a Facebook post by Marcus Newman, a mandolin player and longtime Weisbart friend, who

Online shopping cart

Retailers are trying to combat such massive lost opportunity with emails – offering targeted marketing messages reminding customers that they left merchandise unpurchased. Some send one email, some send multiple. Some wait a few days, some send a note immediately. Some offer discount codes to lure shoppers back to their carts. And therein lies an opportunity for wafflers.

“Consumers are definitely wising up to the fact that retailers are doing this,” says Carrie Gouldin, Web community manager at Thinkgeek.com.

She set up a system at her company, which sells geek chic merchandise such as the iCade (an iPad arcade cabinet), to send out one email reminder to customers who have opted in to email communications. The current offer is $10 off $50.

In the online retail space, abandonment rates of shopping carts hover around 65 percent, according to an analysis by Baymard Institute of 14 recent studies. While that seems like a really huge number, it’s a smaller figure that’s more startling – a recent study by Listrak shows that only 14.6 percent of the top 1,000 retailers are doing anything about customer flight.

Presumably, shoppers could abandon

Shopping binge brings Black Friday hangover

Eager to entice cautious consumers, especially with six fewer shopping days this year than in 2012, many retailers launched sales on Thursday’s U.S. holiday, traditionally a day for family, friends and football games. Even Macy’s Inc’s flagship store in New York City opened then for the first time in its 155-year history, at 8 p.m.

Some U.S. shoppers played along, hitting the Internet and stores on Thanksgiving. But by late Friday morning, foot traffic looked a lot more like on a regular Saturday than the typical Black Friday frenzy that kicks off the holiday season.

“It’s a lot less than I thought,” said Alison Goodwin, from Horsham, Pennsylvania, who ventured to an area mall on Friday seeking gifts and maybe something for herself.

“It’s like any weekend in December,” Goodwin said.

While mall traffic appeared slower than last year, overall Black Friday online sales as of noon EST were up more than 7 percent from a year ago, according to IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark. That came on top of the 19.7 percent increase on Thanksgiving Day, the firm said.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc U.S. Chief Executive Bill Simon said Thanksgiving

Shopping Blackhawks

A short time after the Stars acquired Jason Spezza in a blockbuster trade Tuesday, the Blues opened their pocketbook to sign the coveted Paul Stastny to a huge contract and the Avalanchescooped up veteran sniper Jarome Iginla. The Wild followed by bringing Thomas Vanek into the fold and the Jets even got into the act when they added Mathieu Perreault to bolster their center position.

All the while, the Hawks were relatively quiet, only re-signing veteran center Peter Regin to a one-year, $650,000 contract.

Just when it seemed the Hawks would be content entering the 2014-15 season with Andrew Shaw, who is better suited as a winger, or unproven prospect Teuvo Teravainen as their second-line center, general manager Stan Bowman landed a bigger fish with a late-afternoon signing of veteran Brad Richards to a one-year, $2 million contract.

Just like that, the Hawks had a legitimate No. 2 center.

“It’s a big moment for us to be able to add someone of (Richards’) caliber as a hockey player and as an individual,” Bowman said. “He brings so many things to the table for us. There are a lot of options for our coaching staff now. We’ve certainly been searching for someone that is an experienced center in

Business for Indiana fireworks shops

In the week before the nation’s birthday, Panos worked 8 a.m. to midnight, subsisting on Aurelio’s Pizza ordered via speed dial. As manager, she oversees 15 workers who help customers pick from a selection that ranges from a $6 box of bottle rockets to the $700, 6-foot-tall “Godfather” combo pack. Every other day, a distributor stopped by to replenish supplies.

“People say, ‘You don’t get to do fireworks?’ No, this is my fireworks,” Panos said, gesturing toward the shop full of customers and colorful bundles of explosives.

Uncle Sam is one of about a dozen fireworks shops packed along Indiana’s border like a football team’s offensive line. In the weeks before July 4, they compete for the business of hordes of Chicagoland residents driving across the state line to escape Illinois’ ban on consumer fireworks.

The stakes are high. Greg Kaplan, owner of Krazy Kaplan’s Fireworks, said about 75 percent of his sales come from Illinois.

And a huge portion of the stores’ revenues come from sales leading up to July 4. Uncle Sam makes 85 percent of its sales from Memorial Day to July 4, Panos said, while Krazy

Shop at work

It’s this kind of negative attitude that Daniel Wiebracht thrives on. Wiebracht is a “professional clothier” who counts Bentler among his devoted clients.

Wiebracht’s job is to keep you out of stores. He is the store. Wiebracht comes to your office, assesses your needs, shows you the stuff, takes your measurements, orders the clothes — down to the socks and boxer shorts if that’s what you want — and then delivers it all, waits for you to try it on and will take it back for further alterations if you don’t like the fit. “It’s the best deal ever,” said Bentler.

I’d always assumed that this was the kind of service that Michael Jordan, Donald Trump and Tom Cruise employ to outfit themselves for their busy lives as zillionaires. Many menswear shops will offer personal service if you spend a great deal of money at their stores.

But I’ve recently learned that the same thing is available to regular people with less astronomical incomes, retailphobics who just want to avoid shopping in stores but either don’t trust their own judgment or want the personal attention you can’t get shopping online.