Great news! Wrapping up warm and girding your elbows to tackle the mega-sales that are Black Friday and Cyber Monday is so 2014. Ever since Vinton Cerf and Bob Kahn invented a glorious thing called the Internet, snapping up items can be completed with a few choice clicks on the World Wide Web.
That said, knowing how to nab the best tech deals on Black Friday is not for the weak of knee, which is why we’ve taken the bat and stepped up to the plate. Come Friday 29th November (for that is the big day) we want you fully versed on how to find, judge and pounce on the best deals from retailers like Amazon, Argos, Currys, Richer Sounds and Sevenoaks, in the UK, and Best Buy, Target and Walmart in the US.
And if you miss the main event, there’s always Cyber Monday on 1st December to deploy your Operation Black Friday strategy. (Not sure what Cyber Monday is? If it were a movie, it’d be called Black Friday: We Go Again.)
Follow these eight simple steps to buying on Black Friday and you won’t go wrong on the big day(s).
1. Make a Black Friday wish list
Grab a pen and paper and, to paraphrase the Spice Girls, write down what you want, what you really really want. Getting drawn in to buying things purely because they’re cheap or pushed by certain retailers is a sure-fire recipe for disaster.
So, is your smart TV on its way out? Perhaps you’ve had your eye on a USB turntable for ripping your vinyl to digital? Maybe that special someone in your life has been dropping not-so-subtle hints about a pair of wireless headphones or a Bluetooth speaker they want for Christmas? How about a soundbar to help that parent better hear their TV?
So make that list and try and stick to it. And yes, some retailers have afforded you the ability to create wish lists on their sites but remember they might not have the cheapest price on your chosen products come Black Friday…
2. Bookmark What Hi-Fi?’s Black Friday deals pages
Not that we’re into shameless self-promotion, you understand, but we’ve done a lot of legwork for you here. Depending on what you’re after, one (or several) of our focused Black Friday deals pages can be bookmarked for quick reference.
Think of us as deal truffle pigs, nosing through countless retailers’ sites to find you the best AV bargain. We see it, we list it – with convenient links so you can swoop in for the sale while stocks last.
Oh, and if we see a Black Friday deal so good it needs its own news story, you’ll read about it in our latest news section, of course. We really have thought about this, you know.
Prefer to search products from specific, trusted retailers? We’ve rifled through and noted our top picks from those, too.
And if you prefer your deals listed by product, go ahead and have at this little lot, too:
3. Smarten up your online accounts
Black Friday deals will doubtless begin trickling in before 29th November. Although the bulk of the action will happen from the stroke of midnight on Thursday night (28th), we want you to be ready beforehand. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail, and all that.
Often, great bargains will sell out in a matter of minutes, so you really don’t want to be wasting time creating accounts and entering all of your details. Signing up in the early hours of the morning doesn’t sound like our idea of fun, either, so it’s worth taking a few stress-free minutes now to create accounts now on your favourite shopping sites.
Now is also a good time to make sure your delivery and billing information is up to date. Again, every minute counts when your chosen deal goes live on Black Friday or Cyber Monday.
4. Make a budget (and don’t succumb to buying frenzy)
It may sound obvious, but we’re not suggesting you launch yourself headfirst into a wild spending spree on Black Friday – especially if your budget is tight.
To that end, it’s worth going back to that wish list and putting a top-end figure next to each item. If you’re super-organised, you could also put a priority number before each one.
When doing your product research, you’ll notice that all the What Hi-Fi? Awards categories are all split into price brackets, such as “Best wireless headphones under £200” (which was won by the excellent Cambridge Audio Melomania 1), because we know that everyone has a certain amount to spend, and they want to know they’re getting the best for that money.
5. Do plenty of research
When it comes to making big decisions, you really should be listening to experts. So, if you’re in the market for anything that plays audio or video, chances are we’ve given it a full, unabridged review.
Simply type the product name into our search bar at the top right of the page, or browse our review categories. You can check out the competition while you’re at it. We test all our review products in-house and pit every product up against its rivals, so you can be assured we have done thorough testing before we reach our conclusions.
Also, it’s worth getting acquainted with the technical specifications and features you might want from your new kit. If considering a TV, do you want Dolby Atmos support for example? Is an OLED display worthy of your investment when QLED seems very much on the up? DYOR, as they say.
6. Set your alarm (or stay up late)
There’s no sugar-coating this one: most of the big retailers will publish their biggest Black Friday deals from midnight on Thursday 28th – so you may want to stay up late.
That said, in years gone by, websites have sometimes crashed as a result of the huge influx of traffic as midnight deals go live on Black Friday, so some retailers have suggested you wait until quieter buying times to do your shopping.
Argos, for example, claims that the best time to shop on its site is between 3am and 4am. Perhaps no surprise. So if you’re really committed, it might be worth setting an alarm if you want to avoid the (virtual) crowds.
The same can of course be said for the big brands in the US, who will also be unleashing an almighty deals-fest at midnight – and probably a fair amount in the run-up to it.
7. Beware of scams
People can be devious. Sadly, there’s nothing like the increased traffic of money changing hands to draw scammers out of the shadows like moths to the flame.
Never give out your credit card or login details, be wary of unsolicited emails, and think twice before clicking on those ‘too good to be true’ offers on social media sites. Always pay securely using your debit/credit card or PayPal – we strongly advise you to steer clear of any potential seller asking you to make a direct money transfer. Now is a great time to check your anti-malware software is in tip-top shape, too.
You should also be aware that some retailers actually bump up the price of their products before discounting them on Black Friday. Obviously, this can make the discount seem far better than it really is – naughty, but it happens. That’s why we recommend doing research now, to give you a realistic idea of the non-discounted price.
Obviously, if you stick with What Hi-Fi?, we’ve been in the game for longer than we’d care to admit, hand-picking the best deals we find in order to make sure you’re getting the best savings possible. We’ll be working around the clock on Black Friday and Cyber Monday – and we won’t fall foul of skewed prices.
8. Don’t forget Cyber Monday
As previously mentioned, Black Friday isn’t a one-day rodeo. We’ve learnt over the years that some items will be reduced on Black Friday, while others will be held back until Cyber Monday. Certainly if you’re in the US, Cyber Monday is arguably bigger than Black Friday when it comes to crazy savings.
If you’re more interested in fashion than tech, for example, some retailers are expected to offer site-wide discounts on Cyber Monday, meaning it’s probably a good idea to wait.
Cyber Monday is also typically a good time to find deals on white goods and household appliances, so if you’re looking for a new vacuum cleaner, it might be worth holding off until then. You could go back to that wish-list and write “BF” or “CM” next to each item, if it helps you stay organised.
On top of this, most hi-fi and consumer tech retailers will offer a continuation of their Black Friday deals into Cyber Monday. Occasionally, discounted items could drop even further in price on or just before Cyber Monday. Waiting to see if that happens obviously means that you risk your product selling out completely, though.