Accuracy Key for Black Friday Shopping Sites

Nov 15, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Black Friday, the Friday after Thanksgiving, is just around the corner and Web sites highlighting deals on high-definition televisions and HD-related gadgets are in full swing.
Sites such as DealTaker.com and BlackFriday.info are offering sneak peeks at Black Friday sale prices at major retailers including Best Buy, Sears, Target, Costco and Circuit City.
Many of these sites have been around at least four years and have become increasingly prominent each year.
However, some consumers question how these sites are able to get such valuable information before it’s released, and if it’s even accurate.
Neal Rapoport, CEO of DealTaker.com, said he gets his sale information from the store itself, people who work at the stores or printing companies who have the ads.
“We don’t guarantee anything we print will be on sale,” Mr. Rapoport said. “However, we try and make sure things are as accurate as possible.”
DealTaker operates mainly as a forum, so users can bounce information and rumors off of other users on the boards; a moderator attempts to check the accuracy of the information.
Mr. Rapoport warned that a huge trend this year has been Black Friday sites posting last year’s sales information and passing it off as current.
To avoid advertising faulty sale information, some sites establish relationships with retailers in order to get accurate leads directly from the source.
“We have a close relationship with Wal-Mart,” Mr. Rapoport said. “We had advance warning when they had their $100 HD DVD sale.”
Jon Vincent, founder of BlackFriday.info, operates his site slightly differently from DealTaker.com in that it mainly focuses on actual retailers’ ads instead of word of mouth.
“We get digital pictures of ads from insiders at companies, printers and distribution chains,” Mr. Vincent said. “They send it over to us and we try and verify it.”
Both Mr. Rapoport and Mr. Vincent said the hot items this year are HDTVs and high-def DVD players.
Of rumors that Wal-Mart will offer HD DVD players for $100 again, Mr. Vincent said the retailer probably won’t do that this Black Friday, but predicted it would for Black Friday 2008. Prices on HD DVD players will range from $150 to $200, he said.
The interest in Black Friday sales keeps growing each year, Mr. Vincent said.
“Traffic has doubled from this time last year,” he said. “We’re close to 2 million visitors now and expect more.”
While BlackFriday.info doesn’t offer forums, it does provide users a special shopping list feature where they can place their favorite items and receive a reminder e-mail when their items are available for purchase.
Black Friday may not be the holiday shopper’s last chance to save on HD-related items. Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving, is considered the biggest online shopping day of the year, and both BlackFriday.info and DealTaker.com offer sale information about the day.
“Everyone gets back to work on Monday and goes to their computer,” Mr. Rapoport said. “Stores are starting to realize people are doing this and now have sales.”
The online deals will be focused on the technology side, like HDTVs and HD DVD players. Sites like Amazon.com and Buy.com are key participants. In addition, major retailers’ Web sites will offer different deals and separate items than they did in-store on Black Friday, Mr. Rapoport said.
During the off season, sites like DealTaker.com function as coupon sites, posting deals all year round.


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