Mar 15 2010
When it comes to websites, I like simple. I like my websites to be like a glass deli counter: everything’s right there in plain sight, front and center. You don’t have to hunt around for anything, there’s nothing else “in the back”, and the interface is pure WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get). Simplicity implies honesty and integrity.
If popularity is any judge, then many people agree with me that simpler websites are better. Geeks, in particular, tend to dislike having to click through a bunch of pages to find what they want. It’s why many of the most popular websites out there (Google, IsItChristmas, etc.) are simple and straightforward. And if you share my sentiment for simplicity, you need to check out Ben’s Outlet.
Basically, Ben’s Outlet is a website with twelve items on the front page, arranged in a grid. The items are updated several times per week and they range from headphones to digital heart monitors to video game peripherals. When an item sells out, it’s replaced with another item. Each item can be clicked on for a detailed description, or you can simply click “add to cart” if it’s something you know you want and can’t go on living without. Such as anything that is radio-controlled and costs less than a pair of pants. Seriously, Ben’s Outlet, you had me at BB-firing R/C tank.
Thankfully, the prices are rock-bottom. This is because Ben’s Outlet buys overstock and closeout items directly from sellers around the world. The product quality is top-notch and, unlike many other “hot-deals” websites, they keep the shipping cost reasonable and flat-rate. They charge about what it costs to ship the item; no more, no less.
The deals you’ll find on Ben’s Outlet are available only for a limited time. Once they’ve been removed from those twelve boxes on the front page, they’re no longer available for purchase. They’ve got an area on the bottom of the page where you can see items that are no longer available, which is, quite frankly, rather cruel. They’re right there, just out of reach, so close yet gone for good. I can understand how this provides motivation to visit the website every day, but it’s still be pretty torturous.
Something I really enjoy about the site is that the product descriptions are written by real people, not faceless advertising drones. This really sets Ben’s Outlet apart from similar sites and gives you the impression that you’re dealing with real people who are just trying to get you a great deal. The product descriptions tend to be passionate, interesting, and somewhat revealing. They’re written much like how the average person might write a description after getting to play with a really neat gadget. Whoever this “Ben” character is, he’s a lucky guy.
Ben’s Outlet is a great place to shop for holiday and birthday presents for the geeks in your life. Aside from the R/C vehicles and spy-toys for the man-children you know, there’s also audio gear, GPS devices, crazy-cheap netbooks, USB gadgets… the list goes on and on. The best part is that many of them are priced just right for stocking-stuffers or neat token-of-appreciation gifts. If I chose any one item randomly from the products that are currently available on the Ben’s Outlet homepage, I can think of at least two people I know personally who would love it. And, if for some insane reason those people didn’t like their gifts, well, I wouldn’t feel too badly about keeping them for myself.
If there’s one thing that Ben’s Outlet could use, it’s an RSS feed for new products. It would be a welcome feature that could keep potential customers updated on the latest products, without having to visit the page every day. Easier said than implemented, but it’s really the only fault I can find with the site.
Ben’s Outlet is a great concept executed flawlessly. Sure, there are other sites out there that function similarly, but I’ve never been quite as enthusiastic about their products as I am about these. Similar sites tend to be hit-or-miss, while I can’t find a single item on Ben’s Outlet that I wouldn’t love to have.
It’s a perfect site for geeks on a budget, really. The prices are low, the shipping is reasonable, and their product selection is right on. If you’re into great deals on cool gadgets, you should count Ben’s Outlet among the sites you visit every day.