While auctioning off items at discounted prices is no novelty, Woot.com takes it to the next level. The online store carries 1 item at a time in each category for 24 hours, and products are never announced beforehand. Stock is unpredictable and runs out quickly. It may sound disorganized and even a little ridiculous when looking at some of the merchandise sold, but the site was actually named one of Time Magazine’s “50 Coolest Websites” in 2005.
Woot consists of several sections; the main one sells a wide variety of electronic equipment. Products range from digital cameras to gutter cleaning robots and Homer Simpson desk lamps.
Entertainment systems with iPod docks and wireless subwoofers can be bought for up to 40 percent less than the retail price and can even find a USB panic button, a device that activates a preset screensaver so that no one would ever find out you were on Facebook instead of doing homework.
The site will occasionally have a “Woot-off” where a succession of products is available for a period of unannounced length, usually 24–72 hours. When one product sells out, it is replaced within several minutes by a new product. This usually prompts a period of frantic tracking and Woot status-checkers.
During Woot-offs, people can also buy special Flying Caped Monkey toys or the infamous “Bag of Crap,” which always sells for $3 and contains at least three items that range from dollar-store objects to flat-screen televisions.
There is also a forum for customers to discuss and share research, as well as a daily podcast with wacky songs and skits in advertisement. Overall, the candid and creative humor on Woot is a welcome change to the ordinary auction experience—where else could you find an imagined scene between Hamlet and his ghost father if Hamlet had a Flip Ultra 60 Camcorder?
Other sections of Woot include Woot Shirts, which each day sells one T-shirt with a graphic design similar to those of the online store Threadless, and Woot Wine, which sells wine.
In general, the objects sold on Woot, besides the occasional oddities, are somewhat useful items, such as USB drives. But unless one obsessively checks the site every day and is willing to do a significant amount of researching through reviews, forum posts and cross-referencing retail sites—all very quickly—the gold mines that save $100 and are actually worth buying are rare.
Oftentimes the products can be matched in price by sites like Amazon. Also, some of them cross a little too far over the line of “interesting”—who really needs an aqua scooter or a marinater?
Overall, it is a worthwhile experience to visit Woot at least once; the fun, humorous site, bizarre products and modern business provide a novel entertainment for anyone. But be prepared to learn how to become a tech-savvy, hardcore shopper to really use the site.