The proliferation of online shopping sites has brought about both opportunity and complication for consumers. With so many different companies offering the same products, it can be difficult for customers to know where the best deals are and to know which sites are selling quality merchandise. Cheapism, a startup website located in New York City, is looking to change that.
Founded in 2009 by Max Levitte and Felix Sheng, Cheapism’s website offers the best deals for many products while also assessing the quality of each item. Levitte, who worked for Consumersearch.com with Sheng before it was sold to the New York Times Company, had his breakthrough moment when he attempted to buy a vacuum online. “I was looking to buy a cheap vacuum, since I only had one small rug in my apartment. I went on Amazon, and it sorted the vacuums by number of stars and by price, but I wound up buying a really crappy vacuum. I realized that there wasn’t a way to find out what products are inexpensive but also good. Reviewers usually cover the best products, but ignore the cheap ones. Since I had experience in the review world, it made sense,” Levitte said.
Cheapism’s system for finding the best deals is entirely manual. Levitte and his team hire freelance writers that work within the guidelines Cheapism has developed internally. For every category on the site, they first look at all of the products available and estimate what the cheapest prices would be. They usually decide to showcase the lowest third of the price range, although it varies for different products. The team of writers review the features for each item, and decide which are important for their readers. They read already-published reviews and recommend the best products. Cheapism also employs two editors who go over the reviews, and they also have an in-house quality control team to double-check the recommended products. After all of that, the best deals are put on the site.
The highest-priced categories are the ones where Cheapism finds the biggest discounts, offering big savings from quality brands for washing machines, refrigerators, and laptops that won’t break instantly. Many offered products have seasonal differences in sales, according to Levitte. “Right now snow-blowers and leaf-blowers are popular, but before the summer, grills and air conditioners are high sellers. Vacuums have steady sales. For some reason, mascara sales are really high.” Cheapism also has a blog where they discuss various topics related to the “frugalsphere”, a term that Levitte offered up. It’s had pieces recently concerning the best coupon apps and a comparison between CostCo and Sam’s Club.
Levitte is hoping to expand Cheapism’s reach to more categories. As of right now, there are about 160 categories that Cheapism reviews, but there are hundreds more that Levitte wants to review. The website also has a local section where the team recommends inexpensive restaurants and hotels in different cities. “We want to expand that part. We cover thirty metro areas, but there’s lots more out there. We’re focused on the US right now, but we’re hoping to expand beyond that. Each of our local recommendations can be found on Foursquare, and we have about 27-thousand followers there. So the more places we can recommend around the world, the more people can find those on Foursquare.”
It makes sense that Cheapism would want to expand beyond the United States, because, obviously, saving money is a global phenomenon - especially when buyers are getting quality goods in return. With new deals all the time, Cheapism should be able to spread their penny-pinching ways for a long time.