One-Day Sales… Good Value or Good Hype?

Weighing out value from one-day sale sites

Weighing out value from one-day sale sites

It all started with Woot. They took this crazy idea that if a manufacturer or retailer wants to dump a load of merchandise, why not throw it in front of a mountain deal-hungry netizens and make that merchandise go away in less than a day? And it works! Woot is a successful business model with zillions of loyal fans (and even shoppers).

Then Woot said, hey wait a minute… what if we did Wine.Woot? Would wine shoppers snap up great wines at closeout prices, too? Well, of course they will! Because most wine is expensive.

It’s been said so many times before but “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” Several other companies in the wine space have been eyeballing Wine.Woot’s success and thinking they want a piece of that action. They’ve launched these new sites in many forms, some just like Wine.Woot and others with their own spin. Either way, they’re playing the urgency card (making the deal time-limited) to get you emotionally ready to purchase.

We recently launched a new campaign called Hot Wine Deals (@HotWineDeals on twitter and we have a Facebook page, too). As part of this effort we’re combing through these one-day sales on a, yup, daily basis and uncovering some interesting information!

Here’s a rundown on who’s out there and who’s really offering deals:

  • Wine.Woot
    The pitch: “Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday wine.woot.com will uncork a sweet new wine deal.” And we’ll do it with style.
    The analysis: Sometimes these wines are hard to find online to compare for prices or even get a second-opinion about. And their deals are frequently for 3-packs. I don’t love buying 3 of something I’ve never had so I’m always hesitant to buy, but when it comes to reputation you can’t beat Wine.Woot.com. Follow our shopping advice below and you won’t go wrong.
  • WineAccess Special Deals
    The pitch: Our buying power lets us get unbelievable deals on fantastic quality wines and we incentivize you to buy by offering case-prices and other discounts.
    The analysis: WineAccess has two business models, one is selling high-quality wine and the other is referring shoppers to local and online wine stores. I’m almost always impressed with their selections and their pricing. It’s worth getting on their mailing list to keep in touch with their Deal of the Day promotions.
  • WineExpress (Wine Enthusiast) Hot Deal of the Day
    The pitch: For one day, a special wine has been selected for $0.99 per bottle shipping.
    The analysis: Sorry guys, most of the time these deals ain’t that hot. WineExpress’ regular prices are full retail (or more!) and their sale prices are stingy (from my extreme bargain-hunter point of view).
  • Wines Til Sold Out
    The pitch: Much like Wine.Woot, but without all the prose and better shipping deals. 30-70% off store and internet site prices and special Marathon days where they feature anywhere from 2-5 wines per hour from midnight to midnight.
    The analysis: They seem to be delivering on their promises and they have an excellent reputation among bargain hunters. The fine print says they have a parent company and that this is their closeout arm… I don’t like that the parent company isn’t disclosed so I searched the internet to see if I could find out: There’s some suspicion it might be WineBid.com or Roger Wilco Liquor Stores in New Jersey. Whoever they are, they’re worth keeping your eye on.
  • CellarThief
    The pitch: Great wine at killer prices, and we donate clean water with every purchase!
    The analysis: Sometimes the prices are great, sometimes they’re okay. I’m a fan of their Mystery-packs because it’s fun and the wines are all good quality wines. Plus, they have a great website that’s just fun to visit.
    Side note: I’m not sure how I feel about using charitable donations as a marketing tactic. Typically I’d rather buy my stuff at the best price and send a check to my favorite charities… if we over-ask people for money for charities, we’ll make the wells run dry.
  • Cinderella
    The pitch: WineLibrary’s answer to Wine.Woot with a twist (Wine Library is Gary Vaynerchuk’s baby).
    The analysis: Sales aren’t started or run with regularity, but they’re announced well in advance and there’s a huge one that launches on Friday June 18th. Gary’s got a reputation that is a mega-marketing machine on its own. We love that they show us their past deals and the past prices.
  • WiredforWine
    The pitch: One unbeatable deal each until it sells out! Free shipping offer and best price guarantee.
    The analysis: It wasn’t hard for me to find some inaccurate data on their site and a lower price, too, but when I emailed in and asked about the discrepancy, they checked it out and immediately updated their site to reflect the current data… and they still had a better deal. As Ferris Bueller is famous for saying, “Live moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Well, the web moves pretty fast, too, and that makes it hard for all of your claims to be accurate 100% of the time… it’s all about how you respond to them. Keep this site on your list because their free-shipping offers frequently put them among the best deals around.
  • Vinfolio Flash Sale
    The pitch: Specially negotiated pricing on highly-rated, top quality wines offered in limited quantity for a limited time.
    The analysis: Vinfolio is a consignment/auction site specializing in very fine wines. The kind of wines that the under $25 crowd won’t even consider. That said, if you’re in the market for something outstanding that might be hard to find, this is an excellent source. Their Flash Sales aren’t frequent and don’t occur with regularity so you’ll need to get on their email list for notifications.
  • Wine.com
    We hear they’re coming out with a competitive product in this space, too. It hasn’t launched yet so stay tuned for an update when they do.

Here are some of our tips for shopping these deals:

  • Before you fork over your credit card, do a quick check of your own!
    Most of these sites’ best-price claims are based on 1-3 data sources which do not represent every deal on the web and may not be 100% accurate (because the data sources might not be 100% accurate). Here are three great sources for you to check out when seeing if that price is really a steal: Google Shopping, Wine-Searcher.com, and WineAccess.com. There are of course others, but unless you’re not satisfied if you’re not paying the lowest price to the penny, these will be more than sufficient to let you know if this is a great deal or not.
  • Don’t forget to check shipping costs!
    Some of the one-day sites offer free shipping on 2 or 4 bottles and sometimes the prices are shipping inclusive. This matters when comparing prices with other wine stores! We often find killer deals at little wine shops in NJ & NY except most of them don’t ship outside of their state. We suspect when the one-day sites quote prices, they’re looking at stores with broader shipping capabilities. You can often find a better deal if you look in your locale, so please do so! Wine-searcher.com and WineZap.com are great for this.
  • If your wine is being compared to others in the neighborhood, check out the prices on those wines, too.
    You might really get a deal on pedigreed grapes from a little-known or stressed winery. Places like WineAccess make killer deals on wine from these unfortunate wineries all the time.

I’m SO curious to know what you guys think…

  • Is this space too crowded?
  • Are there too many deal-of-a-lifetime purveyors in the wine biz?
  • What kind of consequences do these one-day sales have on wineries and regular retailers?
Posted on by Arianna Armstrong in How to Buy Wine at Good Prices

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