(Disestablished in 2000)
|Founded||17 March 1999|
|Website||Boo.com (Domain now owned by Hostelworld)|
Boo.com was a short-lived British eCommerce business, founded in 1998 by Swedes Ernst Malmsten, Kajsa Leander and Patrik Hedelin, who were regarded as sophisticated Internet entrepreneurs in Europe by the investors because they had created an online bookstore named Bokus.com, the third largest book e-retailer (in 1997), before founding boo.com.
After several highly publicized delays, Boo.com launched in the autumn of 1999 selling branded fashion apparel over the Internet. The company spent $135 million of venture capital in just 18 months, and it was placed into receivership on 18 May 2000 and liquidated.
Ernst Malmsten wrote about the experience in a book called Boo Hoo: A dot.com Story from Concept to Catastrophe, published in 2001.
Boo.com was intended to become the largest online sports e-retailer in the world, planning to set up stores in both Europe and America simultaneously.
The brand name was initially suggested as Bo.com, which was inspired by the actress Bo Derek. The final domain name, Boo.com, was bought for $2500 from a dealer as the domain Bo.com was already in use.
The target customers of Boo.com were young, wealthy and fashionable people between 18 and 24 years old, who were expected to be attracted by sports and fashion brands offered by Boo.com. Boo.com created a virtual shopping assistant, Miss Boo, to assist customers with tips given at each step. Boo.com also developed technology that allowed online customers to put their chosen products onto 3D models and then inspect the result.
Headquarters and relaunch
The company had its headquarters along Carnaby Street in London. The company initially had 40 employees. In October 1999, it had a total of eight offices and 400 employees in Amsterdam, Munich, New York City, Paris, and Stockholm. It relaunched in the autumn of 2000 with Kate Buggeln, an ex-Bloomingdale's salesperson and Internet consultant, appointed as president. She told Women's Wear Daily that they were working to "expand beyond the portal business model into Boo products and Boo licensing."
Reasons for failure
Although there were several months of delays prior to launch and problems with the user experience when boo.com first launched, these had been largely fixed by the time the company entered receivership. Sales had grown rapidly and were around $500,000 for the fortnight prior to the site being shut down.
The fundamental problem was that the company was following an extremely aggressive growth plan, launching simultaneously in multiple European countries. This plan was founded on the assumption of the ready availability of venture capital money to see the company through the first few years of trading until sales caught up with operating expenses. Such capital ceased to be available for all practical purposes in the second quarter of 2000 following dramatic falls in the NASDAQ presaging the "dot crash" following the dot-com bubble. Boo was one of numerous similar dot-com company failures over the subsequent two years.
One Boo.com manager acknowledges that the company's failure was that global marketing and advertising costs too much, and that managers and technology invest too little. It spent $135 million of its investment in 2 years.
Problems with users experience
The complicated design required the site to be displayed in a fixed-size window, which limited the space available to display product information to the customer. Navigation techniques changed as the customer moved around the site.
The site's interface was complex and included a hierarchical system that required the user to answer four or five different questions before sometimes revealing that there were no products in stock in a particular sub-section. The same basic questions then had to be answered again until results were found.
Excessive expenditure on marketing
To attract consumers, the site developed a new Internet virtual technology with which consumers could drag their intended clothes onto a virtual 3D body model, and then view it from whatever angles and distance they wanted. The investment in this technology cost Boo.com over $6 million to develop and $0.5 million every month to maintain.
Boo.com spent £125 million in just six months. Boo.com's sales did not match expectations, due partly to a higher-than-expected rate of product returns (a service that was offered for free, but charged for by their logistics supplier Deutsche Post). Poor management and a lack of communication between departments resulted in rapid growth in costs. The effectiveness of an expensive ad campaign was limited since the website was not ready in time, resulting in curious visitors being greeted with a holding page.
Staff and contractors were recruited in large numbers, with a lack of direction and executive decision about how many people were required, resulting in high payroll costs.
Creditors, most of whom were advertising agencies, were owed around £12 million. Over 400 staff and contractors were made redundant in London and around the world, and many had not been paid for several months.
Fashionmall.com, which had been operating since 1994, bought the remains of Boo.com, which included brand, web address and advertising materials but did not include any physical assets, software or distribution channels. The deal also included the Miss Boo character. Boo's main assets, its software and technology, were sold to Bright Station, a British company run by Internet entrepreneur Dan Wagner, for $250,000 and served as the basis for Venda Inc. Wagner credited the technology he acquired as key to the success of Venda (and its eventual acquisition by NetSuite for US$50M in 2014).
Less than $2 million was earned by selling all Boo's remaining assets.
Of the original global boo.com staff only one worked for both boo.com incarnations. Bill Burley of the original boo.com staff in New York City is a retail executive in buying and merchandise planning. Burley was hired by fashionmall as the Global Fashion Director of the new boo. He reported directly to Ms. Buggeln.
Current state of the domain
In May 2007 Web Reservations International (WRI) turned boo.com into a travel site with reviews and listings. When the new site launched, it already had more than one million user reviews which had been collected from existing WRI travel sites.
In October 2010, the new boo.com site announced that it was closing down with effect from 1 November 2010.
As of July 2020[update] boo.com redirects to hostelworld.com.
- "Boo.com WHOIS, DNS, & Domain Info – DomainTools". WHOIS. Retrieved 5 August 2016.
- Chaffey, Dave; Ellis-Chadwick, Fiona (2016). Digital Marketing Strategy, Implementation and Practice (sixth ed.). Harlow: Pearson Education Limited. p. 108. ISBN 978-1-292-07761-1.
- Wray, Richard. "Boo.com spent fast and died young but its legacy shaped internet retailing." The Guardian. 16 May 2005. Retrieved on 12 March 2012.
- Malmsten, Ernst (2001). Boo Hoo: A dot.com Story from Concept to Catastrophe. Random House Business Books. ISBN 978-0-7126-7239-9.
- "The greatest defunct Web sites and dotcom disasters". CNET. 5 June 2008. Archived from the original on 26 February 2013. Retrieved 5 June 2008.
- Malmsten, Ernst; Portanger, Erik; Drazin, Charles (2001). Boo Hoo. A Dot.Com Story from Concept of Catastrophe. London: Random House.
- Chaffey, Dave; Ellis-Chadwick, Fiona (2016). Digital Marketing Strategy, Implementation and Practice (sixth ed.). Harlow: Pearson Education Limited. p. 109. ISBN 978-1-292-07761-1.
- Sorkin, Andrew Ross. "INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS; Boo.com, Online Fashion Retailer, Goes Out of Business." The New York Times. 19 May 2000. Retrieved on 12 March 2012.
- Seckler, Valerie, "Boo Names New Boss: Kate Buggelin," WWD, Mon. 17 July 2000, p.14
- "Site Comment: Boo.com (Bohmann Usability)". Archived from the original on 5 June 2011. Retrieved 7 October 2011.
- Roggio, Armando (29 December 2014). "2 Ecommerce Blunders to Avoid in 2015". Practical Ecommerce. Retrieved 6 March 2018.
- "INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS; Fashionmall.com Swoops in for the Boo.com Fire Sale". The New York Times. 2 June 2000. Retrieved 5 February 2022.
- "Tristan Louis (TNL.net)". Tristan Louis (TNL.net).
- "jobfairy.com – Boo! And the 100 Other Dumbest Moments in e-Business History". jobfairy.com.
- "Boo back in business, this time on a budget". 30 October 2000.
- "Top 10 dot-com flops". Archived from the original on 10 February 2014. Retrieved 10 February 2014.
- "boo.com in new travel guise". utalkmarketing.com. 2 May 2007. Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 18 May 2007.
- Boo.com (Archive)
- Jakob Nielsen's mini-review of Boo.com – A design/usability perspective
- Boo.com Goes Bust – An insider's perspective
- archived version of boo.com
- Case study on Boo.com for marketing and business students