PwC, a leading professional services network, conducted its most comprehensive retail survey to date in 2016, reaching out to nearly 23,000 online shoppers from around the globe to learn more about their interests and habits. Among the findings was the insight that affordability figures heavily into shopping decisions, with 60 percent of those surveyed choosing a favorite retailer because of its prices. Many are increasingly using their mobile devices while shopping as well, with 31 percent accessing coupons or promotional codes on their smartphones.
If you’re among these price-conscious, mobile-savvy consumers, you’re exactly the type of shopper FatWallet is looking for to join its platform of deal seekers. RewardExpert spoke with Brent Shelton, one of FatWallet’s online shopping experts, about the company’s history and mission as well as its impressive array of deals and money saving resources.
From a $100 Investment to 5 Million Registered Users
Founded by entrepreneur Tim Storm in 1999 with nothing more than $100 and a spare bedroom repurposed as an office, FatWallet began as an online community where shoppers could share information about coupons and deals. Acquired by Ebates Inc. in 2011, and Japan’s Rakuten in 2014, the company’s mission remains the same to this day.
“Basically, FatWallet is here to help people save money as well as provide a resource where consumers can share knowledge, tips and advice on ways to buy things cheaper,” Shelton said. He noted that the company has more than 3 million consumers using the website each month and has grown to more than 5 million registered users who love to save on online purchases.
The Best Online Deals, All in One Place
While visitors to FatWallet will find coupon and discount codes from more than 2,000 online stores, the backbone of the company’s platform is its user-generated content.
“In addition to the deals our staff culls from a database that wholesales online coupons, our users post upwards of 1,000 deals a day in our forums,” Shelton explained. Staff select the best of these and add them to the website’s deal pages, which are organized by department and store.
The website’s front page is reserved for featured and hand-picked deals. “We choose the ones we know will perform well and do the most justice for the consumer and retailer,” Shelton said. “We want both parties to be happy, so we sift through millions of deals every day and pull out the best ones. These tend to be more remarkable than just 10 percent off, which you see all the time everywhere.”
Recent deals of interest to frequent travelers include 30 percent off at Holiday Inn Express, 15 percent off on hotels booked through Orbitz, a free day with a five-day car rental from Hertz, and up to $570 off flight and hotel packages through Expedia. “You’ll also generally find really great luggage deals and discounts on the stuff you need to bring on a trip,” Shelton added.
Shoppers who enjoy using their iPhone or iPad when making purchases can access FatWallet’s library of deals through the company’s Deal Hunter app while on the go. “When you use the app, you can even favorite your preferred stores,” Shelton added. “Then you won’t have to sift through hundreds of deals to find a store where you like to shop. It’s a really FatWallet-friendly way to shop on your smartphone.”
A Wealth of Insight as Well
Of course, there’s more to FatWallet than just coupon codes. The forums, which run the gamut from grocery and drug store deals to finance and technology discussion, are constantly evolving. “When you spend time in the forums, make sure you read through all the comments,” Shelton added. “There are a lot of little hidden gems in there. Even if a thread looks old, it’s a living document that FatWallet users are always updating.”
Shelton’s favorite is the Travel Deals and Discussion forum. He described it as a “smorgasbord of deals, price comparisons and user tips on how to save money traveling.”
“There are some longtime threads in there with upwards of 1 million views,” he added. “Because FatWallet has been around for more than 15 years, there’s a wealth of information in the forums including very topical, useful discussions such as the best places to book a cruise and how to upgrade your room in Vegas by tipping the front desk.”
“If there’s a topic you’re really interested in, subscribe to it,” Shelton concluded. “We’ll send you the latest comments and updates by email. You can also set up topic alerts for products you’re planning to buy.”