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Consumer Electronics

Buy.com Grows Up in a Hurry

1 Mar, 2009 By: Jacqueline Renfrow Response

The online retail superstore now offers more than 5 million products, and Jeff Wisot, vice president of marketing, says expanding use of direct response methods continues to spur exponential growth.


In November 2007, Mandel, the host of the prime-time game show "Deal or No Deal," signed on to be a spokesman for Buy.com. According to Wisot, Mandel's role for Buy.com is to do what he does best, "Howie, just being his funny self." Every month or two, the company runs a new commercial featuring Mandel out talking to real people about their shopping habits. He jokes around with those on camera about wasting time driving to stores, when they could shop at Buy.com.


 

 

It seems to be working. The commercials, which air on limited network, cable and satellite stations such as Comedy Central, ESPN, FOX and CNN — and online on YouTube — have brought in an enormous amount of viewers. In the past eight months alone, the top six most popular Mandel commercials have registered 16 million views on YouTube. The commercials on TV are virtually identical to those on YouTube, except for one special online-only episode that was three-and-a-half minutes long. "People are seeking these videos out, as opposed to TV commercials, which are just in front of people," Wisot remarks.

Two-thirds of Buy.com's customers are male, ages 25-54, but the recent additions to the site are an attempt to widen that demographic. For instance, female-skewed categories include the newly launched baby store, the jewelry category, the apparel category — which was added in the second half of 2008 — and now the expanding collection of designer shoes.


 

 

 

It's Good To Be No. 2

 

Oddly, in Buy.com's genre of E-tailers, there is no company ranked No. 3. "There are people that dominate in certain areas," says Wisot. "But no number three or four like us. We're not trying to be Amazon — we're an alternative to Amazon."

What sets Buy.com apart from Amazon? Most importantly, Wisot says, it is BuyTV, a weekly 30-minute show that covers the latest and most popular products being sold on Buy.com. The show focuses on just one product and often brings in a representative from the manufacturer to explain how to use the product in great detail and through demonstration. "For instance, for a Toshiba computer, we zoom into every angle of it, every port and we have a specialist fly out from Toshiba to represent the company," says Wisot. Back in January, during the annual Consumer Electronics Show, Buy.com filmed the show on location and went around to different booths to have companies demonstrate their latest products.

Jeff Wisot, vice president of marketing, poses with the "Lord of the Rings" Gollum, a gift given to Buy.com from New Line Cinema as a thank you for selling massive amounts of the movie DVDs.
Jeff Wisot, vice president of marketing, poses with the "Lord of the Rings" Gollum, a gift given to Buy.com from New Line Cinema as a thank you for selling massive amounts of the movie DVDs.

 

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