The "Southwest Airlines" model is how Dennis Abboud describes his e-commerce site Deepdiscount.com. Abboud, a former CEO at Charles Levy, is now president and CEO of Infinity Resources, a company with a smattering of online retail and fulfillment businesses. And Deepdiscount.com, an e-tailer offering videogames, DVDs, CDs and, more recently, books, promises the lowest retail prices around, when taking its free shipping into consideration. A "no-frills" experience is what Abboud said the site offers, likening it to the aforementioned airline, which promises the cheapest fares.
Abboud, who started the business under the banner DeepdiscountDVD. com in 2001, said his timing was ironic, getting into Internet businesses right after the dot-com crash. "It was like repopulating after nuclear holocaust," he explained. Nonetheless, the company acquired eight video and music outlets including DVD Planet, Critics' Choice Video & DVD and Heartland Music.
The site, which relaunched as Deepdiscount.com on February 8 (when books were added to its offerings), draws some 60 million visitors annually and has sales in the "nine-figure range," according to Abboud. It fulfills customer orders by working with Levy Home Entertainment and Baker & Taylor. (Deepdiscount takes a daily feed of the two companies' inventory databases). Because it has no inventory of its own and commands low shipping rates because of the volume it moves, Deepdiscount can offer its products so inexpensively, said Abboud.
Abboud and some of his other executives were in New York last week, talking with publishers about ways to make the book section of the site more robust. The site is targeting commercial fiction buyers, Abboud said, adding that backlist sales have also been strong. Deepdiscount took out its first ad in the New York Times Book Reviewon February 11, and more ads in the Times and other book review sections are planned; radio spots and ads in other print publications continue to run.
Based in suburban Chicago, the company is planning to open its first bricks-and-mortar store later this year at its Naperville, Ill., headquarters. If the store is successful, more outlets will follow. Abboud also hopes to roll out downloadable content offerings in the future, as well as online magazine subscription ordering.