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Posted by Mark Hine at 9:37AM   |  Add a comment

Tis the season for personal electronics! Now that Cyber Monday has kicked off the on-line holiday season, e-tailers are in full swing to offer deals.  The on-line competition is good for the consumer this year. With a slumping economy, big and little box stores are eager to sell. My advice, shop around!

As a former e-commerce developer, it is important to keep a few things in mind:

Know Thy Buyer
E-Bay is still a hot marketplace for personal electronics. Gauge reputation and read seller reviews. Use caution when supplying payment information. Saddly, fraud is at its highest this time of year. Check for the padlock in the lower right corner to be sure your information is encrypted with industry standard SSL. Double-click the lock and read the security certificate to ensure that it matches the merchant. Don't be afraid to pick up the phone and order. Any retailer worth their salt has an order line. Check with Better Business Bureau web sites and investigate the reputation of sellers you've never heard of or with lower reputations.

Free Shipping!
That's the mantra of many e-tailers this year and how they are swaying customers to their fray. Look for low-cost and free shipping. The sooner you order, the more likely you are to receive this benefit.

Shipping Time & Locale
Remember that this is the busiest time of year for UPS, FedEx and the USPS. While transit times are usually quite good, using a service that provides you with tracking information is recommended. Check often so that you can arrange for the package to be supervised or signed for. We leave instructions on our door for deliveries and direct the carrier to call us if we are not home. It is always a good idea to request a signature but this time of year, UPS and FedEx will often bypass that step regardless of your instructions.

The Street
I was in Manhattan on Black Friday looking for deals and getting a feel for the personal electronics market on the street. Prices are as expected in any metro area...mildly inflated but still a consistent gauge from year to year.  Big sellers this year appear to be laptops and, of course, iPods. No visit to the city is complete without a trip to the Apple store, which was jam packed with holiday shoppers. Attention was focused on the second generation iPhone and iTouch. Big box retailers seem to be responding slower than expected to price sensisitivty, so don't forget about the local merchant who may be more competitive than usual. Shopping local is good for the local economy which means, in the long run, more choice. 

Even if you plan to shop on the blacktop, use the Internet to price compare. Some e-tailers offer on-line only deals but will ship to a store when requested.

Happy Holidays!



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