8.22.17 Entrepreneurial Success

BestBlackFriday.com: Founded by Friends with a Passion for Sharing Helpful Holiday Shopping Information with Readers

By: Jon McDonald

The Crunch: While many holiday shopping websites promise to make the lives of users easier, most only add to the information overload. Phil Dengler and Eric Jones, co-founders of BestBlackFriday.com, are determined to change that experience by providing helpful resources and savings tools that present relevant information in an easy-to-navigate format. The founders run the site with a personal touch as they aggregate holiday deals for consumers and analyze the offers from shopping holidays throughout the year.

By the time Phil Dengler was in middle school, he had already launched his own chat-based website. Although he sold it a few years later, that experience helped him learn how to code — and gave him exposure to the online advertising industry.

Eric Jones was a middle-school friend of Phil’s, and, as they grew up together, he recognized Phil’s talent for website development and wanted to work with him. In 2010, Phil and Eric finally teamed up, building a series of websites before hitting on their big idea.

The sites sold products ranging from Halloween costumes to beach supplies before the pair decided to enter the shopping holiday space with a site devoted to Cyber Monday. Phil and Eric gained enough knowledge through that experience to launch in 2013 BestBlackFriday.com, a site that focused on the biggest shopping holiday of all.

Eric Jones and Phil Dengler launched the site BestBlackFriday.com in 2013 to help consumers find the best deals around the shopping holiday.

At the time, Black Friday was already a well-established tradition, but the e-commerce aspect of it was only beginning to explode, and Phil and Eric saw an opportunity to help shoppers find deals more intuitively.

“We saw there were no great online resources for the shopper at that time,” Phil said. “The ones available certainly weren’t made with the consumer in mind.”

An abundance of Black Friday deal information was available online, but it was too overwhelming for shoppers to sort through. So, Phil and Eric set out to build a consumer-focused website to showcase deals and helpful information without overloading the senses.

That mission drives the team behind BestBlackFriday.com and has helped the site become a trusted source for holiday shopping information and deals. BestBlackFriday.com educates consumers about shopping holiday sales, discounts, and ad scans to make shopping experiences simple.

A Site Dedicated to Helping Readers Find the Best Deals

Eric and Phil stress that they didn’t start BestBlackFriday.com for the money; they wanted to help shoppers. That is reflected in the way the site analyzes deals before presenting them to users instead of displaying an overwhelming barrage of coupons.

BestBlackFriday.com examines trends, elicits feedback, follows the news, and uses data from past sales to predict shopping patterns and decide which offers to serve and when. That data-driven approach is a source of pride for Eric, who has a masters degree in mathematics and is a calculus and statistics professor.

“We don’t simply guess what our audience is interested in,” Eric told us. “Our offers are based on surveys and what our analytics say our users’ interests are.”

BestBlackFriday.com analyzes Black Friday trends to keep its audience informed and serve more personalized offers.

That granular inspection contrasts with that of other sites which merely display a slew of advertisements, leaving visitors to decipher which deals are superior. And the BestBlackFriday.com audience benefits from more than just savings. The site’s long form content — blog posts, buying guides, and research studies — helps consumers stay informed and build a bond with the site.

In the world of Black Friday-deals, quantity over quality seems to be the norm, but BestBlackFriday.com strives to be more focused and personalized. That is why many users come back year-round to check for updates.

Hands-On Founders Work to Stay Connected with Consumers

Unlike sites with disconnected departments that handle various tasks, Eric and Phil do the lion’s share of the work on BestBlackFriday.com. While they could easily go on a hiring spree, Eric and Phil want to be involved and run a lean organization.

“We’re on the ground doing everything,” said Phil. “We care about what’s happening with the site, and it’s not just about making money for us.”

During the lead-up to Black Friday, the site hires seasonal workers to manually upload and scan discounts and promotional advertisements ahead of the big event. The seasonal staff quickly understand Eric and Phil’s passion.

Eric Jones, left, and Phil Dengler, center, have built a lean team so they feel more connected to the consumer.

“They know how much we put into the site because we are always talking about it,” said Phil.

Ultimately, however, Eric and Phil lay the groundwork. They handle administrative tasks, communicate with advertisers, facilitate partnerships, interact with PR representatives, do interviews, and create content.

“Because we have the experience, we feel we should be handling things,” said Eric.

That hands-on approach keeps Eric and Phil connected to the BestBlackFriday.com audience. When Phil writes newsletters, he personalizes them by sharing stories about events in his own his life. And, sometimes, readers even reach out to thank him personally.

“I get thank-you notes with my name on them,” said Phil. “It makes me feel good to provide a service that people are happy with.”

The Latest News on Black Friday and Holiday Season Trends

Inevitably around Black Friday, retailers seem unable to keep one in-demand item in stock. This year, BestBlackFriday.com predicts it will be the Nintendo Switch. Because the company is known for underproducing its game consoles, consumers tend to be more frantic in trying to acquire them.

“There’s always that one big item that’s extremely popular, and it’s often a video-game console,” said Eric.

The Nintendo Switch is predicted to be one of the hottest items on sale during Black Friday.

While last-minute shoppers may miss out on Black Friday markdowns, they still have a good chance to save as the calendar creeps closer to Christmas. Good deals — potentially even better ones than those offered on Black Friday and Cyber Monday — pop up in December. To take advantage of those offers, consumers need to track items to see if there is excess inventory — or if a new model is coming out.

Whether it’s the Nintendo Switch or another hard-to-find item, BestBlackFriday.com wants to help its users find the best price. The site now aggregates all of the Black Friday offers and promotional giveaways in 150 posted ads. The depth of information allows die-hard Black Friday fans who shop in-store to see what freebies are available before they stand in line. And BestBlackFriday.com publishes those roundups with the consumer in mind, not its own bottom line.

“We won’t make money from putting this information out there, but it is something our users can take advantage of,” said Phil.

Providing Resources to Take the Stress Out of Holiday Shopping

Eric and Phil went from middle school friends to co-founders of a website that teaches people how to save money — and reduce stress — around Black Friday. The pair also keeps up with emerging trends about shopping holidays, including the general unease about Black Friday encroaching on Thanksgiving Day — which many consumers want to see remain a day for connecting with family.

Eric and Phil found their audience is also not pleased with the push to make Thanksgiving a shopping day, and they predict that pushback from consumers will cause fewer stores to open the day before Black Friday this season.

A BestBlackFriday.com survey revealed that a majority of shoppers dislike stores opening on Thanksgiving Day.

Eric and Phil are also tracking how Amazon’s Prime Day in July will impact the holiday shopping season. One expectation is that Amazon will have better deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday on products that weren’t discounted for Prime Day.

But the biggest change in Black Friday shopping over the past five years is that the best deals are becoming available online as well. BestBlackFriday.com expects this trend to continue and will be there to help consumers find, research, and save on all of the items they want.

About The Author

Jon McDonald is a contributing editor for DealCrunch with over 15 years of experience editing, writing, and designing at numerous publications. His passions include digging into emerging trends and seeking out the companies making an impact on the retail industry.

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