Shopping with a sense of humor? woot!

Jun 16, 2006

Not many shopping Web sites will call you a "poor, naive, deluded little fool" to your face. But then again, not many shopping Web sites are as irreverent as woot.com.

"For someone who writes marketing copy, I hate the way most of it is done," Jason Toon, the guy who just called you a fool, told UPI.

"I feel that my intelligence is being insulted, and that's something we never want to do at woot," Toon, Woot's self-described "communications dude," continued.

The concept behind the site is simple: Woot sells one product per day, every day. Usually the product on offer is a gadget, though not anything new or on the cutting edge of technology. For instance, wireless keyboards seem to be a popular woot.

"Woot," or "w00t," by the way, is a computer geek's exclamation of joy. Like, "I just found $100 on the sidewalk! w00t!"

Its origins are disputed -- some believe it is an acronym from computer war games, while others attribute it to the Simpsons. The shopping site has made it into a noun (a woot is the day's online sale) and a verb (the site exists to woot) as well.

The woots may not be top-of-the-line technology, but because the company's founder and Chief Executive Officer Matt Rutledge has 10 years of wholesale experience under his belt, they are usually fairly cheap.

"Because we have low prices, (the products) are still appealing to some people," Toon said.

This is also one of the reasons for the stinging, cynical product descriptions, Toon said.

"Our (tech-savvy) audience within minutes can find out a product's pros and cons, so there's no point in sugar coating," Toon said.

For instance: "'Why would I want to buy an Xbox Live headset?' you fulminate, spraying Ho-Ho crumbs all over your July issue of EGM. 'I got one free when I subscribed. What a rip-off -- or should I say Woot a rip-off.' Zing! You are absolutely right. That flimsy plastic headset is all you'll ever need," the site says of a video-game headset for sale one day several weeks ago.

The blog entry goes on to describe some of the headset's advantages "now that those losers (who complained of a rip-off left the site and) aren't listening."

But sometimes the site offers products that are almost impossible to promote. One recent woot was a desktop bundle -- keyboard, speakers and mouse -- all made to look like frogs.

"Submitted for your disapproval: the Frog Family Desktop Bundle. It's perfect for anyone who's ever said 'I could get a lot more work done if my peripherals were bright green and staring at me.'

"Let's get the specs out of the way, as if they matter: both the 107-key keyboard and the three-button mouse connect via PS/2, while the speakers use a standard 3.5mm audio plug. Oh, and they all have oversized, terrifying eyes that never blink, or look away, or betray a single moment's compassion," the site quipped.

"This is the only job where your boss says that what you write is too positive," Toon laughed. He added that the product manufacturers are not always thrilled about the light in which the woots are portrayed but usually come around when they see high sales figures.

Woot's marketing strategy, wittingly or unwittingly, incorporates a lot of what Internet analysts are calling Web 2.0, the second wave of the Internet revolution.

Technology research firm Gartner characterizes Web 2.0 as a very social experience, full of blogs and online communities, podcasts and social networks. Woot's blog draws hundreds of comments a day, and the site also has a daily podcast with an original song about the product on offer that day, Toon said.

This way, even when people don't want to buy that day's product, it gives them a reason to come back to the site, Toon explained.

The company employs about 30 people in 2 offices: one near Dallas and one in St. Louis. It does very little advertising.

"We want to make people go, 'What the hell?' To startle and totally surprise them," Toon said.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Social Security spent $300M on 'IT boondoggle'

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Google eyes Chrome on Windows laptop battery drain

4 hours ago

Google Chrome on Microsoft Windows has been said to have a problem for some time but this week comes news that Google will give it the attention others think the problem quite deserves. Namely, Google is to ...

Security contest techies say they hacked Tesla Model S

6 hours ago

The good news: Tomorrow's cars are computers on wheels. The bad news: Tomorrow's cars are computers on wheels. Ma Jie, writing in Bloomberg News, reported this week that the Tesla Model S sedan was the target ...

Water problems lead to riots, deaths in South Africa

8 hours ago

Three babies who died from drinking tap water contaminated by sewage have become a tragic symbol of South Africa's struggle to cope with a flood of people into cities designed under apartheid to cater to ...

Recommended for you

Study shows role of media in sharing life events

8 hours ago

To share is human. And the means to share personal news—good and bad—have exploded over the last decade, particularly social media and texting. But until now, all research about what is known as "social sharing," or the ...

UK: Former reporter sentenced for phone hacking

15 hours ago

(AP)—A former British tabloid reporter was given a 10-month suspended prison sentence Thursday for his role in the long-running phone hacking scandal that shook Rupert Murdoch's media empire.

Evaluating system security by analyzing spam volume

15 hours ago

The Center for Research on Electronic Commerce (CREC) at The University of Texas at Austin is working to protect consumer data by using a company's spam volume to evaluate its security vulnerability through the SpamRankings.net ...

Surveillance a part of everyday life

16 hours ago

Details of casual conversations and a comprehensive store of 'deleted' information were just some of what Victoria University of Wellington students found during a project to uncover what records companies ...

European Central Bank hit by data theft

17 hours ago

(AP)—The European Central Bank said Thursday that email addresses and other contact information have been stolen from a database that serves its public website, though it stressed that no internal systems or market-sensitive ...

Twitter admits to diversity problem in workforce

19 hours ago

(AP)—Twitter acknowledged Wednesday that it has been hiring too many white and Asian men to fill high-paying technology jobs, just like several other major companies in Silicon Valley.

User comments : 0