One of my favorite things to do post-holiday is to talk to folks in my office about how they shopped. Though this was a small sampling of 20 co-workers, I’m confident that the underlying themes should mirror most shoppers as well.

Black Friday is more than just one day since every year it starts earlier and extends past Cyber Monday. Some retailers even make it last all week as Cyber deals seem like they never end.

A Digital Commerce 360/Bizrate Insights survey of 1,055 online shoppers revealed that the highest participation and buying will be seen on Cyber Monday (61%) followed by Black Friday at 56%.

One of my favorite things to do post-holiday is to talk to folks in my office about how they shopped. I find that their actions very much reflect who they are and how they behave beyond shopping. Though this was a small sampling of 20 co-workers, I’m confident that the underlying themes should mirror most shoppers as well.

Shoppers do their homework. But when they see a deal, they strike

Researching gifts was core to holiday shopping for 53% of our online shoppers. As one woman in my office shared, she mapped it out, winning the award for shopping excellence. After purchasing clothes for family members, including shirts at Ralph Lauren and Under Armour, she was still just getting started. At 10:30 a.m. on Black Friday she headed to the Fashion Outlets near O’Hare to pick up a few more goodies. On Cyber Monday, she was all in on toys, finishing out her family’s list online.

For one tech junkie, he had his eye on the Google Next Hub and ultimately purchased it at Target. Since he had visited a number of online stores to compare prices, he was retargeted, which influenced his final purchase, with price the driving factor.

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Another bought a computer, sound bar and speakers. He went to wired.com to see the top ranked products and their respective reviews. From there, he clicked through to retailers that included Walmart and Target and ultimately bought at BestBuy.com.

Another savvy shopper price matched all of her items and that sentiment was shared by others. She purchased a kid’s toy food truck at Bed Bath and Beyond and, of course, she got to use their coupons. She also found some toys for less at Target than Amazon and sniffed out those deals across the web, describing 10 purchases she had made for nieces and nephews. She acknowledged that in many instances, if it was on sale in one store, it seemed to be on sale at most of the top retailers, but this way she was reassured.

Shopping is a learned behavior

With email and extensive online advertising, one can quickly learn about how retailers market, including their promotional mindset, and shoppers can work this to their advantage. As part of my discussion, I heard things like, “I know Snapfish has their lowest prices on Christmas cards, so I wait and buy them on Black Friday.” Another chimed in, “I always buy holiday outfits for kids on my list from Janie and Jack. This year, as they have in the past, they came in with their Black Friday sale, and I was still able to use a coupon on top of that. What could be better?”

Taking it off the list

Sharing is caring as 25% of our surveyed shoppers expected to create or shop from a wish list. Let’s face it, kids have many more options for sharing their wish list and some got very specific. One daughter sent her mother a text of 10 items that ranged from products at Sephora to a robe on Amazon Marketplace. When tackling her other daughter’s list, she encountered an out-of-stock notice for an Instantpot on Target. She ultimately went to Rakuten where it was available, and she was surprised but happy for the cashback program.

The cutest thing I heard was “my wife makes the list.” He said they bought on Cyber Monday as things got a bit too busy on Black Friday.

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Year-over-year, repeat purchases were also in play. The same coworker purchased Baketivity subscription boxes for his niece since that is what he usually gets her. And then there are those whose family members send random links that magically appear via text or email. One dad sent an Amazon link to the jacket he wanted, making it easy to take an item off his list while another spent time looking through his wife’s Amazon wish list for gift ideas.

Don’t kid yourself—there is a lot of personal consumption

Some waited for just the right moment to pull the trigger on desired items. Others were more practical and took a more needs-based approach.

From a practical point-of-view, one was setting up a second home and bought dishes at Crate and Barrel at 20% off. She took advantage of timing on what otherwise would be a full-price purchase.

Some bought on whim, admitting they threw in a pair of Naturalizer boots while another had been waiting for a Black Friday deal to get the coat she had been eyeing over the past few months.

Replenishment was also an important shopping strategy as one beauty aficionado bought from both Glossier and ColourPop on Black Friday. I tend to do the same thing throughout the year knowing these promotions are often forthcoming but extra days were certainly there for the taking.

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One woman knew the deals and took advantage of shopping to fill in her wardrobe. From boots at Sole Society to H&M, she covered herself from head to toe. In the end, she said it all blended together, but she got a lot accomplished.

It just goes to show that there’s lots of ways to get the shopper’s attention, but underlying all of these efforts is getting a good price. Not surprisingly, 76% of surveyed shoppers and the No. 1 answer was that they would choose a retailer based on competitive prices, and it certainly played out here.

Social media influences shopping

25% of online shoppers surveyed said that they would be likely to make a purchase as a result of social media. One social media maven on the staff bought Brooklinen sheets after seeing a Facebook Ad for 25% off. She also got hats from her kids’ favorite teams after seeing another Facebook ad for 20% off. Lesson learned, as it’s probably one place I could spend more time in search of promotions.

The store is still a factor and local matters

Omnichannel leveraging more than one channel also factored into finding the best deal. Like many others, one savvy shopper started in the stores but closed the deal online. He cited visiting a suburban mall on Black Friday but was disappointed that he couldn’t find the vacuum cleaner he wanted, only to come home and order from Amazon as the deal was better online.

I was touched by the woman who shared that she kept up her family tradition by shopping at a small local store, purchasing a teapot there for her mother-in-law and a baby ornament.

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One woman who favors the store made a trip to Home Depot for an extension cord and holiday skirt. She likes heading there as she can bring her dog, an added bonus.

The Amazon factor

At the end of each short discussion, I would ask if there was anywhere else they shopped. Even if they didn’t make a purchase there on either of these holidays, they certainly checked for prices and stock availability.  Not surprisingly, several shared that they will buy the rest of their purchases at Amazon.

To put a bow on these early holiday shopping days, two gentlemen take the cake. The first indicated he bought a car at the dealer, making a nice contribution to the economy. But the one that may be the most heartfelt purchased an airline ticket to be home with his family for the holidays.

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