Holiday shopping should be filled with cheer, but long lines and sold-out specials can dampen the jolliest of holiday spirits. New tools and retail policies could make holiday shopping easier this year, especially if you plan to kick off the season with Black Friday, one of the busiest shopping days of the year.
For holiday list-making, Google Shopping has added Shortlists that can replace bookmarking websites for easier product comparisons and help coordinate with friends or family if you're going in on a gift together.
Create a Shortlist by clicking the “Add to Shortlist” button as you browse products on Google Shopping. While the Shortlist button appears in Google Shopping, you can add products from other sites by copying URLs. Comment boxes are provided for each item, so you can add notes. When you're ready, you can share the list with others.
Google Shopping has also added 360-degree photos for its toy listings. You can use your mouse to rotate the images, which is about as close to an in-store experience as you can get without leaving the house. Google said that 360-degree imagery is coming for other types of products soon. A free mobile Google Shopping app is available for Android.
Walmart has recently launched a new version of its iPhone and Android app. Your local ads for Black Friday can be viewed once you've selected your store. To see a specific item pictured in an ad, tap the gray button in the top right corner, which will add yellow buttons to each product. Tap to reveal a product photo, price and button to add to your wish list.
The app features a new in-store mode. When you enter a Walmart , the app detects your location and pulls in information for that particular store. Say you're looking for a cappuccino maker. You can type in the item and the app will show you where to find it.
If your cappuccino maker is out of stock, then you'll have an opportunity to buy it online through the app. Walmart doesn't want you to leave the store and buy it somewhere else.
And it's worth mentioning that Walmart has guaranteed the availability of three of its advertised Black Friday doorbusters — LG Blu-ray player, iPad 2 with Walmart gift card and a 40-inch Emerson HDTV — to customers who come into the store between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. If an item sells out, which often happens with doorbusters, Walmart will ship a purchased item to the store for pickup before Christmas.
Black Friday Shopping
Deal site BlackFriday.com earlier this month released a mobile app that offers Black Friday ads and coupons, the ability to make wish lists and get cash back on purchases made by clicking through product links from Black Friday's deal listings. The same cash-back offer is available on the site. For instance, a Panasonic 50-inch Viera plasma HDTV from K-Mart qualifies for 5 percent cash back. Once your BlackFriday.com cash-back account reaches $10, you can request a check or a payment to your PayPal account. Black Friday Shopping is available in the App Store for iPad and iPhone.
BuyVia is a new app that bridges the gap between online and in-store shopping by showing deals regardless of where they're from. The app includes deals on laptops, tablets, smartphones, cameras and video games, as well as Apple products . A comparison button shows pricing and stores for specified items.
You can sign up to receive deal alerts in the same way that you can with retail sites and deal forums, but BuyVia also sends alerts based on your physical location. Say you're walking through a mall; you'll receive an alert on your phone if you pass a store that has a deal on a product you've specified. Further, you can scan barcodes and QR codes to find competitors' prices when you're in a store. BuyVia is available for free in the App Store for iPad and iPhone.