The Crunch: Rather-Be-Shopping.com, a pioneer in the online savings space, is a coupon site that offers deals from over 850 national retailers and partners with brands like Wal-Mart, Best Buy, and Kohl’s. Since 2000, founder Kyle James grew the hand-built site into a great resource of savings tips and coupons as a one-man show. From cracking the ‘price tag code’ on big-box retailers’ internal pricing systems to giving savings advice on his blog, Kyle goes the extra mile to help consumers spend their money more wisely.
With two computer screens, one home office, and thousands of deals, Kyle James runs his 16-year-old coupon site in Redding, California. Once he locks the door and blasts iTunes, he steals a few hours away from his wife and three growing kids to upload fresh coupons, answer emails from readers, and post new advice on his blog. He even shares daily deals on social media, adds more consumer resources to the site, and gives expert advice that’s usually featured in a national news article.
This is what a typical day looks like for Kyle, the founder of Rather-Be-Shopping.com. On top of publishing thousands of coupons for over 870 stores, he’s a one-man show who juggles public relations, web development, and content duties as well. Although he wears many hats, Kyle continues to focus on helping consumers save while staying relevant in the coupon space. As early coupon sites have come and gone, having a ‘name and voice’ behind Rather-Be-Shopping.com makes the site stand out from those that lack a human element and personal touch.
Evolving a Hand-Coded Website into a Resource of Savings
It all started with a little coupon box. In 2000, Kyle was shopping at BestBuy.com when he stumbled upon a blank text field at checkout. He had never heard of a coupon code before, so he immediately Googled it to find out more information. Kyle found websites that categorized these codes, but did a poor job of organizing them for shoppers. So he set out to create his own.
After heading to Barnes & Noble and buying a book on how to code HTML, Kyle built the first version of Rather-Be-Shopping.com as an online shopping mall. At first it was just a hobby on the side, yet he kept adding more and more coupons to the site when readers sent in requests.
Four years later, Kyle quit his job as a pharmaceutical representative to manage Rather-Be-Shopping.com full-time. The site started to receive a steady flow of traffic as more users flocked to Rather-Be-Shopping for coupons. In 2008, another idea struck Kyle: he should launch a savings blog. Soon after Kyle not only published deals but also provided advice on how to save more money. Having the blog helped him create a strong voice behind the site, especially when he personalized the end of each post with ‘Happy Savings, Kyle’ to reinforce his passion and care.
“My idea was if somebody’s looking for coupons, instead of saying ‘Oh, I wonder what Coupons.com or Coupon Cabin has,’ I wanted them to think ‘Oh, I wonder what Kyle has.'”
– Kyle James, the founder of Rather-Be-Shopping.com.
Today Kyle still uploads every coupon by hand and types up new savings hacks for his blog from home. He could’ve hired other people to help him run the site, or even sold it, but he knows Rather-Be-Shopping.com’s success stems from his own personal passion and voice. So Kyle will continue to help people save, one blog post and coupon at a time.
Cracking the Price Tag Code: Kyle Helps Shoppers Predict Prices
A few years after launching Rather-Be-Shopping.com, Kyle stumbled upon an interesting story about Target’s internal pricing system and got an epiphany. If consumers knew how to look out for sale items, then they could save more. So Kyle started going into stores and anonymously asking employees if they knew how the retailer’s internal pricing system worked.
“I was amazed by how open the employees were with the information,” Kyle said. “I had some employees email me saying, ‘This is how we do it at Sears or Office Depot.’ It grew into this really cool resource.”
After his investigation, Kyle created the price tag code resource, which included pricing information for Target, Kohl’s, JC Penney, and Home Depot. The cheat sheet was picked up by news outlets, exposing the cheat sheet to more consumers. He eventually added more retailers like American Eagle Outfitters, Best Buy, and Sam’s Club so shoppers could have the inside scoop at more big-box stores. Once Kyle cracked the price tag code, he made it pretty easy for shoppers to understand which items will go on sale and how long they should wait to buy them.
“This was just kind of an old-fashioned way to check price tags and immediately know if it’s any cheaper or wait and come back,” Kyle said. “It was a handy little cheat sheet for shoppers.”
Let’s say someone wants to get the lowest deal at Petsmart. After looking at the last two digits of a price, any shopper can determine whether he or she will pay full price or not. Here’s what the chart shows:
- Prices ending in .09, .49, and .99: Shoppers will pay full price
- Prices ending in .07, .27, and .97: Shoppers will get a reduced price
Kyle’s price tag code cheat sheet is just one example of how useful Rather-Be-Shopping.com’s resources are for shoppers. Readers can also learn how to get select discounts (e.g., military, education, or student), when it’s the best time to buy items (e.g., best deals in March), and the inside scoop on store markdowns from other resources on the site. Kyle works hard to provide the most relevant and helpful information so shoppers can save on almost any purchase.
Beyond Coupons: Providing Insider Tips & Savings Hacks on the Blog
When Kyle launched his blog about eight years ago, he slowly became a savings advocate who uncovered secret hacks and easy ways to save. Consumers can now learn how to ask for price adjustments at Amazon or how to shop at Sam’s Club without a paid membership by reading a quick post on the blog.
For example, most consumers like to shop at TJ Maxx, so Kyle wrote a post about 9 killer ways to shop smart and save money at this retailer. He urges readers to shop on Tuesday or Wednesday (for the best price markdowns) or haggle a lower price if they find a defect or scratch on an item. These tips help consumers be conscientious of prices instead of blindly shopping without trying to get a better deal.
From writing a review on Google Destinations to listing out reasons why people should buy in bulk, Kyle pours time and resources into each post to help at least one shopper save on his or her purchase. To him, helping someone save a dollar is worth all the effort.
New Projects on the Queue: Mobile-Friendly Savings for Shoppers
Despite being in a changing industry, Rather-Be-Shopping.com remains one of the most well-established coupon sites on the web, thanks to Kyle’s voice behind the site. His next move is improving mobile shopping experiences on the Rather-Be-Shopping.com iPhone app and helping more people save on the go. He also plans on creating an Android app in the near future.
Behind every coupon, blog post, and resource, Kyle’s voice radiates the concern he has for helping people become better shoppers. There may be newer and bigger coupon sites on the web, but Rather-Be-Shopping.com has withstood the test of time because of the passion he brings to the community.
“It’s been an evolution and a process of me getting to where I am today,” Kyle said. “I’m still learning new ways to market myself and the website and getting people to think about my website when they’re saving money.”