Posts Tagged ‘Online Shopping’

July 10, 2015

Targeting Mismatch

Personalized Re-targeting is a type of advertising designed to turn would-be customers into actual customers, by showing the would-be customers products they previously expressed interest in. You may have noticed that some products and merchants seem to follow you around the internet. You may have viewed a product on one website and then noticed an advertisement for the same product on another. Advertisers are hoping to lure you back to their site to complete the transaction by reminding you of products you previously looked at. After all, you must be at least a little interested in the product to have viewed it the first time. Or so their logic goes.

Personalized Re-targeting has been around for years. I’ve encountered this behavior before back in 2011. Only then re-targeting made sense. The past few weeks the re-targeting I’ve witnessed has just been a waste of advertiser dollars.

Domingo and I are in the middle of furnishing our new home. High on that list was a new dinning room table. I spent a few days browsing different tables online before making a purchase. For the next week my facebook feed was filled with ads, not just for the table I purchased, but for the other tables I viewed as well. All from the same merchant. “Still on your mind?” the caption for one ad reads. “Don’t let this one slip away!” reads another. I didn’t. I had made the purchase.

I suspect it’s extremely rare for someone to purchase the same dinning room table from the same merchant in two transactions over a short period of time. If I’m being generous I would assume it’s slightly less rare for someone to purchase two different dining room tables from the same merchant in two different transactions. The ad broker monitoring my behavior and tracking me as I viewed all those dinning room tables should have also noticed I added one to my cart. But no. If the ad broker did observe the check out process, they decided to remain blissfully ignorant of the transaction. As a result I’m shown ads that don’t interest me. It’s not only annoying to the consumer, it wastes the merchant’s ad dollars.

This afternoon I purchased a kitchen table. My news feed is once again filled with advertisements featuring the new table. Same problem but different product and different merchant.

I’m all for personalized advertising. (Yes, please do help me find good area rugs that go with the furniture I’m purchasing!) Targeting advertising doesn’t have to be a nuisance. In order to not be a nuisance, however, it’s going to have to get a bit smarter.

December 1, 2013

Black Friday 2013 Recap

Another Black Friday has come and gone. Much like last year most of my shopping was done online. The major difference this time around was more than half of it occurred before the Turkey even came out of the refrigerator, and it was one of our best years to date with an average saving of 48%! That is, assuming none of our purchases fall through. I’ll get to that.

Thanksgiving morning I got up with Nicki to give Domingo a chance to get a little more sleep. While she was eating breakfast I decided to check the websites of some of the stores whose deals we were hoping to snag, to see if any of the deals were live yet. The Step 2 Cottage was already on sale on Toys R Us matched by Amazon, as was another item Domingo wanted to get his father for Christmas. (Actually Amazon’s deal for Domingo’s dad’s gift was a few dollars cheaper on Amazon, a happy surprise.) In my cart both went. That’s my kind of shopping: in the comfort of my own home, at a leisurely pace, exactly what I wanted at the price point I wanted.

Alas, the Step 2 Kitchen, was not available online from Toys R Us, nor price matched on Amazon. I figured I would wait until 5pm eastern standard time (the time Toys R Us was opening it’s doors on the East coast) to see if Amazon would price match then. Nada. Okay, 5pm our time. Still nope. I was bummed, but hopeful for a surprise lightening deal.

I continued to monitor Toys R Us and Amazon’s websites throughout the day and Friday. To my surprise Friday morning the kitchen was suddenly available for shipping. In the shopping cart it went. While in the middle of the check out, right after supplying my credit card information, I suddenly found myself viewing my cart. I was confused. Did I click the wrong thing? Did I finished checking out? The kitchen was still in my cart, and I hadn’t received a confirmation number so I decided to try again. The checkout process failed at the same place the second time, with the kitchen still in my cart. The third time I tried to check out I was told my purchase couldn’t be completed because my cart was empty. I went back to the search page, but the kitchen was now listed as sold out. I was very bummed. Eight hours later the kitchen was once again available for shipping. This time, on the second try, I was able to confirm the purchase and received an order confirmation number, but an hour later I received an email saying there was a problem fulfilling my order. The kitchen is back ordered.

I am questing whether my order will be fulfilled in time for Christmas. My experience on reminds me of the website glitches of 2011. BestBuy’s front end website had no notion of how much inventory was still available, and too many orders went through. BestBuy was ultimately unable to fulfill all those orders, and had to cancel someone of them. The constant fluctuations between in and out of stock could be due to a similar inventory accounting problem. Maybe my order kept failing because there wasn’t a product in stock to buy? Toys R Us’ original estimated delivery date was mid December. While my order isn’t canceled, I no longer have an estimated shipment date, and there’s not a lot of slack time between mid December and Christmas.

I am trying not to be too pessimistic. Domingo pointed out that the BestBuy shoppers had no idea there was a problem with their orders until a few days before Christmas because BestBuy had no idea there was a problem with the orders. This isn’t the case here, as I have already received an email from Toys R Us letting me know of the delay. From Twitter and Facebook it sounds like I wasn’t the only one this happened to, and some other folks had their orders out right canceled. Toys R Us didn’t cancel my order, which likely means they think they can fulfill it.

Fingers crossed.

Anyway, here’s what worked for us this time around:

Checking Early if the Deal was Live – For stores with a physical presence “Thursday, midnight!” corresponds to a single, specific time. A website, on the other hand, could have a physical presence in multiple time zones and receive visitors from all over the world. Do they mean Thursday according to where the website servers are located (which could be anywhere in the world and even multiple locations)? The company headquarters? The potential shoppers?

In the past two years I’ve found many retailers have soft start times, and the kind folks answering the help lines often don’t know exactly when the sales start. We discovered some deals went live when it was Thursday in Europe & Asia, but still Wednesday here in the US.

Keeping Multiple Tabs For Easy Deal Checking – I kept a tab open for each product/retailer combination I was considering. I had the play kitchen opened on Amazon’s website, Toys R Us, and Target. Periodically I’d refresh each page to see what the current offer price was. I found this worked better than price alerts websites which are usually restricted from crawling merchant websites too often.

November 25, 2012

Black Friday 2012 Recap

Well, Black Friday has come and gone, and, as predicted, I did all my shopping online. The only thing I bought in person was a haircut.


We finally got a new TV like we had been talking about for years. We’ve been thinking about moving into a bigger house when I finish gradschool, and I didn’t want to have to deal with moving the old rear projection behemoth that probably weighs more than me. Yet, we have no way of knowing what sized living room we’ll have in the new house, though. We also know so little of flat panel TVs that I don’t know what features are must haves and what are market hype. So we’re starting with the cheapest one we could find – a starter TV, if you will. I followed @bestbuy_deals on twitter and the new TV was their deal of the day.

It’s hard to say how good the deal was. The price went up between $30-70 after the deal of the day ended (gotta love those price fluctuations). CamelBuy seems to think it’s a good deal. It does include free shipping and take away of the old TV. I estimated that would have cost us $70-$100, so that’s definitely something.

Sonicare Toothbrush

I blew this one. Everyone and their mother seemed to offer a discounted Sonicare Toothbrush and my old one needed to be replaced. I decided to wait it out and see if there would be a lightening deal, or a price matching price drop occur. Only I didn’t think to use camelcamelcamel to alert me to the price! I know I said I was going to, and I did for other products, but didn’t think to do it for the sonicare. It wasn’t until a friend mentioned being alerted on a price drop for a DSLR for his wife that it occurred to me to check camelcamelcamel. Sure enough, there was a temporary $5 price drop that I had missed. Drat. So I bought it at the advertised black Friday price.


I confess, this one was going to be an in store purchase. I noticed Target was selling Jumperoos at a discount in their pre Black Friday sale, and I assumed the price would continue into the weekend. Since I wasn’t sure which one I wanted, I thought I would take a few days to think about it. Come Friday I discovered that the sale had ended. Luckily, Amazon was still price matching the earlier deal. It’s already shipped, and although I did not pay extra for expedited shopping, it will be here in one day. Score!

Memory Card

I needed given the insane number of photos I take of Nicki. In fact, it was the purchase I was most adamant about. I found BestBuy was offering the best deal, and I hovered around the website starting at 9pm on Wednesday (technically Thanksgiving day on the east coast.) At around 10pm the deal went life, and I snatched it up! Of course, the memory card was available all weekend, but I didn’t want to take that chance.


Online shopping was definitely a win. It was really nice to not have to worry about crowds or fighting for parking spaces, especially the baby, and there were plenty of good deals available online.

We also cut down greatly on impulse deals. (“Impulse deals” is a bit of an oxymoron, no matter what the deal price, it’s still higher than what you were planning on spending anything!) The only things we got that weren’t on my list were 2 CDs (one of which I’m currently listening to) and an HDMI cable (needed for the new TV).

Estimated total savings ~ 30%. Not bad, but I’ve done better.

November 15, 2012

A Seat At the Table

When I was pregnant with Nicki, we purchased mostly gender neutral gear for two reasons. Even though three separate ultrasounds confirmed she was a girl, there was always a chance they we were wrong. Secondly, there is a good chance that we would want additional children, and that those children would not be girls. To a lesser degree, I also didn’t like the overly pink/princess girl motifs.

Now that Nicki is here, my resolve to avoid the pink princess girlie gear is weaker. There’s now a face to a name, whereas “future kids” is still an abstract concept. I’ve also learned that babies are much less gentle on their things than you and I, and many items may not survive to become hand me downs. Nicki also looks darn cute in a splash of pink.

This month we’ll be starting rice cereal. Nicki is showing the signs of being ready. She watches us intensely when we eat. She is extremely interested in what we’re doing with our mouths, and makes a similar chewing motion. She sits well, and mouths everything she can fit into her mouth. But the biggest sign of all is it’s getting harder and harder to keep her satisfied with just breast milk alone.

I decided on Monday to go ahead and purchase a high chair, bowels and spoons. I couldn’t help myself and bought the Disney Princess Silhouette High Chair. It also didn’t hurt that most gender neutral ones had patterns that were too bold for my taste, or color combinations I didn’t care for.

Since it’s November, and Black Friday is getting earlier and earlier, Babies R’ Us was running a series of awesome deals. First, they were offering Sophie the Giraffe for $10 with a purchase of $100 or more (the high chair was $119 list – about a dollar different from Amazon.) Since Nicki is starting to teeth too, and the internet raves about Sophie, I decided to go for it. Next they were doing a 15% off baby gear for a purchase of $125 or more – $6 to go. Of course that was easy, they had a $10 Bright Starts Sensory Plush Toy. She’s been loving those sensory toys lately. So a ten dollar toy saved me close to $20, and a cheap Sophie. I am a happy discount shopper!