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8 Brilliant Online Shopping Hacks for the Holidays

8 Online Shopping Hacks for the Holidays

Okay, get in your coziest sweatpants and make yourself something warm to drink (with marshmallows, preferably): I’m going to make you the smartest Santa around. 

Yes, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are over, but if you didn’t get ALL your holiday shopping done, it pays to be clever about it. While being an online shopping master is something I work on year-round, during the holiday season, it becomes an obsession. First of all, the sheer volume of browsing, clicking and unpacking boxes increases significantly as Hanukkah and Christmas approach. So does the avalanche of sales, coupons and discounts that stores will hurl at you, all of which, ironically can make it tough to find a genuinely good deal. I mean, we used to have Black Friday, then we got Cyber Monday, and now it’s weeks of never-ending promotional emails that clog up your inbox at a speed no one could ever keep up with!

And then there’s the small matter of ensuring all your packages arrive safely, for which I have an unlikely secret weapon: My LiftMaster myQ-connected smart garage door opener. 

If you want to know how my garage door opener keeps packages safe, keep reading. I’m sharing my tricks for when and where to land the best discounts, how to skip shipping costs, streamline delivery and ensure every one of your packages arrives safe and sound. I can’t help you with the wrapping, but that’s the fun part, anyway. 

1. Get Help Finding Deals 

Getting the best deals is about more than just waiting for coupons to pop up. Time to be more strategic. One of my favorite tools is the Honey browser extension. Once you install it, it automatically finds the best coupons for a given item and applies them to your cart before you check out. On Amazon, it finds you the seller offering the lowest price. It’s like having a little elf working behind the scenes for you. I also like Capital One’s Paribus app, which monitors your purchases and then gets you cash back if you buy something and the price drops later. 

2. Keep Packages Safe

Liftmaster myQ-Connected Smart Garage Door Opener

Packages on the front porch go missing or are damaged by an untimely rain or snowfall all the time… but they don’t have to be! This is where having a myQ-connected garage really comes in handy. First, install a Chamberlain or LiftMaster myQ-connected garage door opener, or get the myQ Smart Garage Hub, which allows you to add connectivity to your current garage door (compatible with all major brands). Then download the Amazon Key App and connect it to your myQ App (you’ll need to be an Amazon Prime member to do this next part): Select “in-garage delivery” at checkout, and the delivery person will be able to stash your packages safely in the garage until you get home.

On delivery day, you’ll receive notifications via Key app during every step of the delivery process, from when the package is en-route, to when the garage door opens for the driver to deliver the package and then securely closes. This protects your boxes from going missing and from the elements. Because no one wants to come home to a soggy box of presents.

I’ve had this garage door system installed for five years now, and it’s seriously one of my favorite smart home devices. In-garage delivery is  now available in 50 cities and surrounding areas. Customers can check availability  here.

3. Permission to Ghost

Sometimes, it’s good to go incognito. Before you visit a website, try clearing your browser history and cookies, or open up a private browser window. Many sites offer first-time visitor discounts that you can snag by simply erasing evidence of past visits. If it’s a site you’ve never shopped before and you don’t get a pop-up, look around to see if they’ve got a newsletter list sign-up. Almost all of them offer a first-time discount if you subscribe to their emails, and you can always unsubscribe later.

One last sneaky maneuver: Play hard to get. Sometimes, if you fill up your cart and then navigate away for a bit, the seller wants to lure you back to hit that “buy” button and will send you a personalized discount. If you want to try this, just make sure you’re logged in to your account on that website, so they know where to send the email. 

4. Don’t Pay for Shipping… Ever

It’s 2019, people, and paying for shipping is a rookie mistake. There are soooo many sites that offer both free shipping and returns. Some only do so once your cart hits a certain dollar amount, so try to shop from aggregate stores (like Asos, or Nordstrom) that will allow you to make fewer, larger orders. There are also lots of lists online, like this one, that spell out the sites that don’t charge for shipping. Spend a tiny bit of time doing research, and the savings will start piling up.

5. Upgrade Your Package Tracking

After a big online shopping rush, keeping tabs on what i ordered and when it’s arriving can be a major chore. I don’t want to lose track of things, but I definitely don’t have time copy/paste a dozen tracking numbers into different systems on UPS, Fedex, and USPS. Instead, I use apps like Arrive and Slice by Rakuten— they sync with your email to grab info from your receipts and then automatically track all of your packages from different sites. 

6. Shop Online, Pick Up In-Store

If a brand doesn’t offer free shipping, they often offer in-store pick-up. It may sound a little silly to pick up your packages when the whole point of online shopping is to do it online, but you’re still getting in all of the time-consuming aspects at home, cozied up on the couch. Then, all you have to do is swing by the store when you’re out at some point to grab the purchase. Zara, for example, has a free service that ships items to your nearest store and allows you to cut the line when you pick up your order. It’s like ordering Sweetgreen pick-up on your app; so much faster and easier during the lunch (er, holiday) rush.

7. Take Advantage of the Live Chat Feature

When you have a question, an issue with your order, or just want to make sure you’re getting the best deal, the chat window is the quickest way to go. Some sites’ “live chat” options are bots, but many are interfaces to “speak” with a living being. Also, it’s entirely possible to haggle via live chat: Before you make that purchase, ask the representative if there’s any discount they can extend. Maybe you saw a similar item for a lower price on another site, for example? Work those bargaining skills! 

8. Stalk Brands on Social Media

Is Brandy Melville your daughter’s favorite brand? Go follow them on Instagram, STAT. Social media is today’s newspaper circular—it’s where brands share discounts, offers, and giveaways. Just be sure to look for verified brand accounts, not coupon sites that peddle questionable offers. 

This post was written in partnership with Chamberlain Group. All opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting our sponsors— they help me create great content all year long!

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