Saturday, August 23

Extended Warranties pt2, Introducing SquareTrade

by Matt Rutledge

Hi Wooters. Hope you’re all enjoying your weekend. I wanted to get this update out during the week but time ran short and I want it up by Monday..

Back on the 14th, I started a discussion about Extended Warranties and asked what’s your take. I started off the thread expressing that while I’m still personally not keen on extended warranty purchase, I was starting to loosen up on the subject for specific cases. We received good number of detailed, balanced and well expressed opinions from many of you. I really appreciate the effort.

The high-level summary of our extended warranty goal should be apparent and now validated: To craft a warranty option or recommendation with a reputable service provider, at a reasonable price and, perhaps most importantly, with a limited annoyance factor to those philosophically against the option. Really, our bottom line desire is that no one pass up a Woot purchase due to lack of the option.

Conveniently enough, a few Wooters mentioned their use of SquareTrade, a third party warranty provider that pitches itself as consumer-centric, offers a fair amount of transparency by linking uncensored user reviews, and even publishes a blog to chat with it’s user base. Some of you will remember them from their eBay mediation service. They were the prime candidate Woot was considering going into the discussion and they are in fact who we’ve selected. I believe they offer the best match for our needs in style, execution and implementation. Further, they have fairly robust support for extended warranty of refurbished items, and accidental damage policy options on new items – both potential matches for Woot’s varied offerings.

read more…

 

Friday, August 15

It’s a Woot Charter Member Reunion!

by Matt Rutledge

original woot.com logo circa 2004Five years ago, in late 2003, Woot Inc. was incorporated and plans were set in motion to develop Woot's 1.0 software.  Our website launched in July 2004 with no advertising, no information as to who we were, of course zero reputation to rely on, and a fairly rude in-your-face attitude still exhibited in our "what is woot" section.  To make matters almost purposefully scarier, our first product was in fact a $400+ Robotic lawn mower and our Who-Is info was registered under an attorney.  Were we one of those newly defined phishing sites, drumming up credit card numbers and not shipping product, or was this somehow legit?  Schadenfreude as a marketing strategy? 

read more…

 

Thursday, August 14

CEO, Interrupted: Extended Warranties – what’s your take?

by Matt Rutledge

Woot is researching Extended Warranty partners and offers for specific products as an add-on or post-purchase offer for members. If you have an opinion share on this topic (and I hope you do), please take a minute or two to scan over my own (mostly negative) notions on extended warranties below:

I was shocked a year or two ago reading a well known consumer advocate magazine to see a serious recommendation that folks should consider buying extended warranties for notebook computers.

Essentially, the blurb said, the high value, repair frequency and high cost of potential repair can make the insurance a reasonable bet. I had always enjoyed vigorously turning down extended warranty offers whenever pitched at the time of purchase and I regularly cringed in agony when a family or friend told me how “good” they felt buying an extended warranty for their car or latest gadget because it was going to be “protected now.” I proudly followed a strict line of thought that extended warranties were for suckers and put them in the category of things that subsidize lower pricing for the rest of us.

However, it didn’t take me that long to begrudgingly accept that the logic behind this new advice was sound, especially as intended for the majority demographic of the magazine. It was annoying to have to accept an exception to a rule I enjoyed being a smart-ass about, but then again might regular warranties be shortened and product complexity increased to the extent that this advice would grow even more valid? I filed a mental note to myself that this was an area to watch, as gadget convergence of course continues and more things become expensive, complex and impossible for consumers to repair like the notebooks this advice was based on.

Like many of you, I’ve gone through several notebooks over the years, now plastic baggies full of disassembled useless parts, due to some hardware glitch, hard drive failure that I never fixed, or some hack I half-attempted before giving up and upgraded to a newer, faster model. I have a closet full of junk too disassembled and broken to even throw in a bag of crap. Certainly thousands of dollars spent. Occasionally I might feel a bit wasteful in my consumerism but then again I’m sort of supporting the faster evolution of computing power by upgrading quicker, right?

All in all, I still feel like extended warranties are not for me yet. Some combination of not being able to come full reverse on my original analysis, my guess of the profit margin generally involved, or just that the future thought of trying to get warranty service is too depressing to consider at time of purchase. But, I have come to understand that I’m a higher risk-taking consumer than many of my family/friends and my time value may not apply to them. I no longer react quite so vigorously negative when offered or cringe when I’m told someone I respect splurged for an extra/longer support option.

I’d love to hear Wooter opinions as we balance options. We receive regular requests for warranty offers via email and in the forums—if that was you, now’s the time to speak up.  Defend your requests! Are there items that Woot might sell from time to time such as TVs, notebooks, gadgets where you believe that extended warranty purchase is a logical buyers choice? Is it based on the cost of the item? How about extended warranty on refurbished items? What are your thoughts on appropriate cost of an extended warranty in percentage terms for 2 or 3 year coverage?

thanks for your support
matt

previous entries:
CEO, Interrupted: Crowdsourcing Hot Deals
CEO, Interrupted: LiveShopping aka Worldwide Wooting
CEO, Interrupted: Take your protein pills
CEO, Interrupted: Snapster’s unfortunate alter ego

read more…

 

Friday, July 25

CEO, Interrupted: Crowdsourcing Hot Deals (Fatwallet / Slickdeals)

by Matt Rutledge

Hey, who put this chicken body on me here.It must have been 5 or 6 years ago that I first logged onto Fat Wallet’s hot deal forum and was blown away by the chaos, passion and excitement of bargain-seekers posting and reviewing the best deals spotted on the net. The voracity of users towards each other and “evil retailers” was like an art form, enhanced by the silly user names and propeller-hat avatars. While I was always a lurker, I absorbed this atmosphere with keen interest, reading dozens of thread at a time – I felt late to the scene even as an electronics wholesaler. Here was a demographic not only under-served but even maligned and mistrusted by the vast majority of the industry. Lawsuits flying over pre-publication of Black Friday deals, order cancellations without regard to PR issues, major retailers undertaking initiatives to stop aggressive discount seekers from participation—it was a battle, and a complete lack of recognition from the retail industry that this was a cohesive and powerful demographic to intentionally cater to. Sure I was observing a vocal minority of the users (it always is), but man were they ever vocal. I found myself agreeing with most of the agenda.

It was hilarious entertainment, it was exciting to personally find deals, and it was business opportunity just staring you in the face.

I’ve not kept as abreast of happenings in this space as I would have liked to. Certainly I learned quickly of other collaborative hot deal centers like Slickdeals.net and a few more but I would imagine there are trends and sentiment that I’ve missed.

Do you use “Hot Deal” Sites? How would you personally rank them today? What makes a good collaborative deal-site? What sucks about them? Are there any new ones on the scene?

thanks for your participation

matt

previous entries:
CEO, Interrupted: LiveShopping aka Worldwide Wooting
CEO, Interrupted: Take your protein pills (and put your helmet on)
CEO, Interrupted: Snapster’s unfortunate alter ego

read more…

 

Tuesday, July 22

CEO, Interrupted: LiveShopping (aka Worldwide Wooting)

by Matt Rutledge

Hey, who put this chicken body on me here.

As many of you know, Woot and our business model have enjoyed some nice attention in the US since our 2004 site launch. The Wall Street Journal, NY Times, Associated Press, Reuters, Dallas Morning News, LA Times, NPR, and hundreds of TV affiliates, magazines and radio stations have covered various aspects of Woot, our community, and the business model. It’s certainly now a cottage industry we enjoy watching, with semi-regular launch and success stories from similarly modeled sites and related ventures. At this point it’s safe to say millions in the US (well beyond our 1.4 million members) are familiar with Woot and it’s daily deal peers. (I cannot mention this without marveling at the power of word of mouth and thanking folks for their support.)

What is less covered or shared around domestically are related commerce developments outside the US. How has the daily-deal approach been applied in other countries. Who are the players? Are they having success? Are there fresh innovations to consider?

A quick aside: I do receive regular inquiries on our ability and interest in launching International Woot sites, either directly or through partnership. My standard response is to help describe the localized logistics needs and sourcing pressure while assuring those interested that the business model itself is public domain. We’re supportive and of course interested observers, except for the occasional direct rip-offs of our text and design.  It's just premature for us to go international via product or brand involvement while we focus on our retail and wholesale US development.

For starters, I’ve been enjoying and pondering the emergent likely-German-coined term “Liveshopping” which nicely needs little English translation and appears in use both separated and hyphenated despite German Kombinieren-geschick. I believe we first saw this term just over a year and a half ago – perhaps originating on the German ecommerce blog exciting ecommerce (also with partial manually translated US-version here http://www.excitingcommerce.com/). I’d love to know the actual origins of the term.

While some sites like Exciting Ecommerce offer English language versions of their content, it’s good to have handy Yahoo’s Babelfish (thx centexman) or Google’s Translate. Plug in a full url in to get entire pages auto-translated – here’s the above Exciting Ecommerce german blog’s robust Woot category google translated (wow!)

Oh – here’s an international Woot mention that doesn’t need translation: Enjoy video of the Amazing Joel (shirt.woot joel) and Matthew (podcaster, illustrator and writer matthew) slaving away in our St. Louis office, as noticed by the blog at liveshopping-aktuell yesterday. (also, their FAQ page has a good live shopping definition, google translated here not to mention an aggregated live shop list I’ve yet to peruse)

I’d love to have your help looking around and sharing links about the worldwide daily-deal arena – please share your observations and findings in the comments.

Do you have a worldwide Liveshopping story or liveshop link to share? What do you think of the descriptor “Live Shopping” / “Live Shop” (combined or not) potential as American-English terms? Is it a bit awkward a phrasing to catch on here or will it make the leap and be adopted? Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to lend itself to portmanteau very well like Blog evolved or Wikipedia employed, but then neither does “One Day, One Deal.”

P.S. We would be delighted to have inbound commentary in any language – our moderators will just have to sweat a bit. And remember international shirt.woot shipping is now available to 45+ countries on both daily and pre-reckoned designs. Weniger als 10 Euro einschließlich Fracht! (cheap!) Danke für Ihre Unterstützung.

Auf Wiedersehen
matt

previous entries:
CEO, Interrupted: Take your protein pills (and put your helmet on)
CEO, Interrupted: Snapster’s unfortunate alter ego

read more…

 

Thursday, July 17

CEO, Interrupted: Take your protein pills (and put your helmet on)

by Matt Rutledge

Hello again Wooters. Thank you tremendously for your support, energy and specific suggestions to my introductory blog post last week. Someday I suspect I’ll get pinned down and have to admit that everything ‘smart’ I thought of was a suggestion from our community, but until that time let’s keep that between you and me.

Today I’d like to expand the platform a bit and share our appetite at woot for listening in to what other people are saying about us. Eavesdropping is fun. You’d think our own 2 million post community forums would suffice, but it’s really an extra layer of fun to know what people said elsewhere when they weren’t kissing our butts or shouting at us directly.

First up, a quick thank you to Evan Williams – co founder of Twitter Evan – for mentioning us again as the default answer to what is likely the most repetitive question he has ever faced (this time from Michael Arrington of TechCrunch): What is your revenue model? (watch or text-search woot) Evan, To help make your interview time more efficient, may I suggest an even simpler response: “Twitter. Woot.com. Profit. Any Questions?” – you know, with kind of a “this is your brain on drugs” arrogant style to it… On the other hand, the reciprocal of this arrangement actually sounds a bit better to me. Is the Woot channel valuable Twitter content? Do we want Woot Members subsidizing Twitter or Twitter subsidizing Woot Members? Let’s just have Amazon subsidize everyone.

Two guys and a Jets bucket: WineDavid – managing partner from Wine.Woot – is a guest on Gary Vaynerchuk’s Wine Library TV Thunder Show #501. Awesome show and groundbreaking collaboration guys – keep the great ideas coming. If this is your first viewing of Gary’s show, you’ve been missing out. He’s been featured on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, has published his first Wine Guide and has quite a loyal following. I love his down-to-earth (sometimes literally) tasting comparisons.

Shirt designer jimiyo (his Americana is #13/27 on the shirt.woot reckoning chart) posted a nice resource on Shirt Contests and his endeavors with a few of them. If you’re not familiar with the independent/contest driven shirt scene, you might find this “from the artist perspective” resource to be quite enlightening. Perhaps you agree with his commentary, perhaps you don’t, but it just doesn’t get much better in terms of direct/unbiased artist feedback. Also, it continues to amaze me how subtly subjective shirt design is: it’s virtually impossible to not get caught up believing your views are universal.

So the other day I found that this Jason Lee Miller guy keeps squatting on google searches containing Jason Lee Miller. I find it quite annoying – I mean what if I’m not looking for him when I search for Jason Lee Miller? Also, I’m afraid Wootbot wants to kick his ass and we can’t seem to talk him down.

Woot staff finds many mentions via Google’s Blog Search as well as people sending them in to our media email account. (In fact Google’s RSS subscription of that search is my most used Feed.)

It’s particularly fun to read group introductions and then people’s reactions upon finding out about woot – generally just “WTF” or “Wow, love it.” but just to see the word of mouth in action is really a delight. 

Have you discussed woot on your blog or on a board you’re active in? Share a link in the comments so we can check it out.

read more…

 

Tuesday, July 08

CEO, Interrupted: Snapster's unfortunate alter ego

by Matt Rutledge

Hey, who put this chicken body on me here.

Hi, Matt Rutledge here, founder and CEO of Woot Inc. I’ve asked our creative team (Jason, Matthew, Scott, Dave) here on the main Woot blog to clear a bit of blog-room for me in the coming weeks. They look like they’re having fun with these lists, spoofs and parodies that sneak over in my woot RSS feed. So I want to try my hand at this, though with one eye on the business reality of woot. Things like company strategy, crazy ideas, shout-backs, complaints, observations, bragging - you know, the kind of stuff other more free wheelin' Web 2.0 CEOs do to pump up their egos. 

Oddly enough, this is my first official CEO blog post, even though conceptually we started out Woot by planning the first blog+store. Conversely, my forum activity isn’t exactly lacking in it’s verbosity over the years.  With 1800+ posts now, my account resembles those ultra-active Wooters in the Everything But Woot forums. Some long time Wooters and a few recent bag-o-crappers may know me through these forum posts—or more precisely they know me in my fun role as an anonymous staffer named Snapster. Undoubtedly my Snapster persona will now be decidedly even less cool with this morbid CEO association revealed, but at least I can count on many people not reading here. So if you see me goofing off in the forums, don’t tell on me. Just grin and think how insane I must be, arguing with people who just want to buy stuff, trying to make BOC purchase attempts fair, or even defending SmartPost (impossible as that may seem).

I can think of a few things worth broadly mentioning for this to go well:

  • I do not actively use our forum Private Message system, so don’t expect me to reply there quickly if at all. See below on product/transaction trouble. If you have something relevant and personal to tell me, our woot staff email is first initial, last name @woot.com.
  • Let’s keep things casual here. I will be posting with my own grammatical and spelling errors entact (and intact). We have great writers at woot for reasons that will become apparent, I’m sure. I'm just a hack. 
  • Email service@woot.com for transactional issues – I am not nearly as fast or reliable as sending our team of people a direct message. They have tools and immediate access to your order info that I do not.  There are no special service options here; In fact I wrote the ruder FAQ entries. 
  • Remember the number of total quantities sold when making (or reading) product related feedback (see first post of each product). Sales stats are posted to increase the intelligence of conversation and expectations – scope is really relevant and often underestimated.
  • The very large majority of Woot members have never commented and nor will they be reading a specific blog entry. I occasionally remind staff and observers that no matter how great the participation is and vocal response is, the silent majority is to be considered unspoken. We are all their interpreters. 

Also, regardless of whether they are posted in response to a blog post from me or (perhaps more appropriately) over in the World of Woot as a discussion thread: Thank you for posting about any Woot experiences, good ones and especially bad ones that can help us improve. My time spent here may be hit or miss depending on other duties, but I will eventually read and react to all messages.

So my starter topic is to test the waters by asking for input. Any insider info, curiosity or complaint about woot you’d like us to blog on later or simply reply on now?  Product requests?  Feature requests?  Fire at will.

read more…