THE BLOG
10/12/2013 10:07 GMT | Updated 09/02/2014 05:59 GMT

Is Online Shopping Our Newest National Sport?

Has anyone noticed the dizzying speed with which discounts and 'special shopping days' (e.g., Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Green Monday) have been circling the globe, filling our inboxes, and making heads spin with their sheer potential (...who couldn't use just one more sparkly jumper or handbag at 70% off?) Now, full disclosure, I work for a retailer and we love the extra attention that comes at Christmastime (even if it knocks us out while others are sipping mulled wine). But this year something seems a bit heightened about it all; I mean, how did a U.S. concept like Black Friday so completely steal the hearts and wallets of British shoppers that they would queue outside of Asda in the wee hours of the morning? (okay, I know, two words 'flat screen').

I had the chance to appear on BBC Breakfast last week to give a go at an answer and, at that point, it hit me (sort of like a football to the head)...we...love...sport. Of course in the hierarchy of 'love' it sits maybe above American Football and below darts, but at heart we are a very competitive bunch. When given the tools (the discounts, our mobile devices) and the desire to win (big discounts), the British shopper jumps to the ready.

Feeling that sense of competition arising already? So I'll give you a few tips for getting the best of the online shopping discount season...(please try to keep it to yourselves, I don't want to miss out).

Set your clocks early. It used to be that those in the know would pounce on deals at 10 a.m. when the email hits their desktops at work (forcing them to toggle between a cleverly discussed spreadsheet and those 1/2 price Louboutins). No more! Because of the competition and the fact that we now shop via tablet and mobile, retailers are putting out discounts early, and Team Britain rises to the challenge - getting up early or staying up late; shopping via mobile in bed, on the train; essentially flexing those credit cards and PayPal accounts anytime, anywhere. We started our discounts at 3 a.m. each day from Black Friday through Cyber Monday. And wouldn't you know it, there were many (MANY) crafty Brits up at that time scooping up deals.

January sales no more. Or, more specifically, if you snooze until January, you lose. No longer is even Boxing Day the big day for the start of end-of-year sale. Most retailers this year are moving the sale date earlier and earlier in December. As an insider I can tell you....keep your eyes pealed about 7-10 days before Christmas.

Set your filters. Now this one is about game day strategy: don't land on a retailer's site without a plan. You need to go right to the filters and shop by size, by colour, by price. Otherwise you'll put a lot of effort into finding that perfect blue coat and find that it's a size 2 to your 10. Major disappointment.

Shop by outfit. This is one that took me a very long time to learn. You do not (repeat after me...DO NOT...) need every colour of your favourite top or even two of the same tops or trousers. It's not like stocking up on canned goods, you will not wear these discounted gems. The best idea is to buy by outfit - find a coat, top, jumper, trousers, shoes, etc. Sketch out before shopping what your favourite outfit for any occasion looks like and try to stick to getting all the pieces in a look.

Look beyond the current season. The great thing about shopping online is that items from multiple seasons can sit more readily next to each other than in a store. Many retailers have both current and past season on site (past as 'clearance') and during sale time there are often extra discounts on clearance items, in addition to the current season sale. Whereas you might bypass a pair of shorts or a flirty dress for a warm jumper you might be missing the opportunity to get a head start on next year or...even better...make it easy to pack for that mid-Winter getaway.

Go mobile. More than half of our sales at Isabella Oliver/Baukjen are now from mobile and tablet, slightly more than industry figures suggest, and a sign of what's to come. You can find some great deals from browsing your favourite sites on your phone or tablet. You can also get a head start on a sale if you can do it from the bus or train. But don't limit yourself to waiting for an email, see what retailers are promoting on site and in app.

Voucher codes are great. But, retailers reward loyalty. Without a doubt the savviest shoppers scour voucher code sites for the best % off. Don't stop doing this, but also realise that your favourite brands will reward you for loyalty. Sign up for emails, visit often, participate in competitions and you might find you get extra % off and, in some cases, vouchers for ££ to spend on site.

So, let the games begin! May the best man or woman win the discount games.