Web Site of the Week: October 27, 2008

Woot.com

Consumer electronics (a.k.a. gadgets) have been at the top of holiday wish lists for the last several years and this year looks to be no different.

Woot will not only deliver some of the best gadget deals found anywhere on the Web but, if you pay close attention, it’ll also deliver some major chuckles along the way.

Woot is run by the employees of a 10-year old consumer electronics distributor that focuses on close-outs and generally buying stuff cheap. Products range from home theater equipment to kitchen devices to tech toys for the youngsters.

As a result of the site’s success with consumer electronics, Woot has recently added two additional sites – Wine.Woot and Shirts.Woot.

One product at a time

The basic idea behind Woot is that only one product is available for sale at any given time and each product is only available for 24 hours. At midnight (US Central time), the day’s featured product is replaced by a different offering. If a product sells out before then, a “Sold Out” message is displayed until the next day’s product goes up.

But Woot won’t tell you in advance how many are available until after the product has been sold out. Your only indication that the item is close to being sold out is when the “I Want One” button on the homepage starts bouncing up and down.

Of course, the beauty of the Web is that comparison shopping is easy. You can open a second window and, in an instant, find out how much other people are charging for the same product and get all the reviews you could ever want.

Hello? Anyone there?

Unsurprisingly, with a site like Woot there are some tradeoffs in terms of customer service. Basically, it’s almost non-existent.

There is no way to speak to someone live, shipping is limited to the U.S., and they only use Fed-Ex. For returns, they urge you to contact the manufacturer directly but they do provide an e-mail address if you’d prefer a refund from them. Many issues can be resolved by posting your problem in their Forums and waiting for response from Woot and/or the user community.

Woot Off

Some days Woot is in what it calls “Woot Off” mode, where it will continue to post additional items once the original offering sells out. You can tell when Woot Offs are taking place by the two big sirens under the picture of the original product.

On Woot Off days you may want to click back to the site pretty frequently. On one recent Woot Off day, over 40 products were sold in a 24-hour span.

Woot plus

As is the nature of the Web, the success of Woot has spawned a host of services that purport to improve your Woot experience. My favorite is the Wootalyzer. Wootalyzer is a little application which sits in your desktop task bar and displays pop-ups whenever a new "deal-of-the-day" is released.

Woot also has partnerships with several auctions sites like Ubid.com. A tiny link in the top right corner of the Woot homepage will take you to one its auction partners where there will be a featured auction for Woot users.

Woot can become addicting very fast but luckily it’s also very easy to check in and see what’s up for sale.

We’d love to hear about your favorite websites so please suggest your favorites and we’ll take a look at them for future reviews.

Woot Details:

Websites:        

www.woot.com

www.wine.woot.com

www.shirt.woot.com

Headquarters:  Carrollton, Texas United States
2007 Revenue:  $117 million
Monthly Visitors:  1.09 million (data from Compete, Inc.)
U.S. Rank:  1,418 (data from Compete, Inc.)
Tags:  Shopping, Electronics, Wine, Clothes


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