Slickdeals – Monetizing frugality

Have you ever bought something online and felt really pleased with yourself, only to find out shortly afterwards that you overpaid by 20%? Suddenly that new pair of shoes you were looking forward to, is now just a constant reminder of the money you wasted. If you’re anything like me, then the mere thought of experiencing this frustrates you.

However, in the world of increasingly prolific and competitive online shopping, this is becoming more and more common. With so many vendors, selling the same items, with different sales, coupons, introductory offers and rebate schemes, it can be very difficult and time consuming to figure out if you’re getting the absolute best deal on something.

Enter Slickdeals, “the leading and most trusted online community dedicated for sharing, rating and reviewing deals and coupons”. It started out as a simple online forum for bargain hunters to share deals with each other, ranging from multi-thousand-dollar luxury watches to free gift cards from filling in customer surveys. Members vote on the deals that get posted, and as deals receive more votes they transcend in status from Popular to Front Page to Fire 3. The best deals are curated by the editorial team so they are represented in a standardized and easy to digest format, and also receive the coveted community designation of being “slick”. Today, Slickdeals has offices in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, a vibrant community of over 10 million monthly active users (a whopping 80% of whom are returning visitors) and has helped its users save over $4 billion to date.

The Slickdeals homepage –

What makes Slickdeals so great is the passion and engagement of its community. They will source and share deals from every corner of the internet and passionately debate the quality of deals and the underlying products. As an example, toilet paper is something that is relatively unexciting and inexpensive. However, on Slickdeals, there are literally fanatics who have years of data on bath tissue sales. If a bath tissue deal comes up, you can be sure that these people will let you know if it is good deal by providing a breakdown of the cost per sheet (adjusting for number of plies and sheet dimensions) to the nearest 100th of a cent. This is serious business, see the exhibit below.

You know you’ve made it when people refer to you as the “Lord of Toilet Paper” (

While members receive no monetary benefit for sharing deals, they do get the satisfaction of helping other likeminded people save money and of knowing that thousands of other people are validating their deal hunting ability. Their participation is largely intrinsic. Slickdeals on the other hand, is able to monetize the shopping traffic it generates by collecting a commission which can range from 1% to 8.5% on purchases that are made by users who came from Slickdeals. To do this, once a deal is posted and appears to be on track to be popular, the editorial team will edit the link in the original post to replace it with an “affiliate link”. Click through traffic is tracked using these links through which Slickdeals can then accurately attribute sales volumes with the end vendor.

Slickdeals also benefits from both direct and indirect network effects because the more users are posting deals, the more users will visit the site and start to post deals themselves, and the more user traffic there is, the more attractive it becomes for vendor websites to pay for advertising or share their own deals directly. As a result, Slickdeals is also able to monetize through advertising and “Featured Deals”.

So the next time you see a good deal online, before you hit the checkout, ask yourself – I know this is a good deal, but is it slick?


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Student comments on Slickdeals – Monetizing frugality

  1. “on Slickdeals, there are literally fanatics who have years of data on bath tissue sales”
    Such a great post, thanks Yun!
    I wonder how Slickdeals could become more of a mainstream shopping portal rather than a site for the toilet paper lords of the world. They need a very Slick ad campaign…

  2. Yun, not gonna lie here, I’ve always thought Slickdeals was some sort of scam. You have proven me very wrong. $4B in savings is monstrous. Is the platform substantially better than Google’s shopping functionality? I assume yes, given the involvement of an actual community (and curators) in addition to some sort of web crawler. I wonder if there’s some way the Slickdeals team can better incentivize future participation. Reliance on goodheartedness might not be the best long term strategy. Great post!

  3. Amazing post Yun. More than a few laughs from that one. As for the business, I wonder where they are headed. I remember when the site had a clandestine feeling to it. Now its arguably more appealing, but also more catered towards the interest of the masses. I think twice about featured posts since they may not be the best deal, but the ones that gave the best affiliate rate. Hopefully they are able to grow while staying true to their roots!

  4. Slickdeal is one of my favorite websites and I visit the website almost everyday to find ‘slick’ deals. I wondered what business models they had other than advertising because I didn’t know they edit the link. So basically, slickdeal works the same as other referral sites such as ebates and mrrebates but deals are user-generated. Thanks for the great post!

  5. Hi Yun! Great post – hopefully there are some diaper deals on Slickdeals in the future! Any idea how big Slickdeals is in terms of revenue? I’m wondering whether the upside to a business like this is capped because companies don’t want to have too much of their sales going through discount sites like slickdeals in order to make sure they retain some margin. At the same time, there’s always a need for companies to clear inventory, and with a rabid user base at slickdeals it seems the perfect platform to run your best deals (where you don’t care so much about margin). Any sense of whether slickdeals allows users to gain notifications on their favorite products/categories so they can always be sure to take advantage of deals on their top interests?

    1. Thanks Alex. I’ve had a look around and unfortunately can’t find any reports of their annual revenue. However, Warburg Pincus invested in them in 2012 (, so I think it’s safe to assume that have meaningful & growing revenue.

      They do allow users to set up notifications/deal alerts for when certain products go on sale.

      There are many, many diaper and baby related product sales on Slickdeals 🙂

  6. I found a very similar offer site

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