Full Disclosure: I’m biased, and I have reason to be. :-) Having said that, I will honestly strive to be objective in my review here.
I discovered Jet.com about two months ago. They are a startup making a solid attempt at entering the online retail space, and I know what you’re thinking because it’s exactly what I thought: How on earth are you going to take on Amazon?
It’s a valid question, and one that is best answered as the CEO of Jet.com did when he said:
The Costco business model came to be 21 years after Walmart was founded and it worked. It didn’t crush Walmart or hurt Walmart. Coincidentally, it’s 21 years post Amazon. We’re doing to Amazon what Costco did to Walmart: Not beat them up, but just introduce a new way to save.
Basically, Jet isn’t trying to be or replace Amazon; it’s providing another option.
As part of my research into Jet, I signed up for a beta membership (they go live this next Tuesday), and I did a ton of research. I built multiple baskets of items using Jet and Amazon, and I made sure to compare straight across what I was finding between the two. End result? Jet won. Every. Single. Time.
Here’s a brief sample:
- Sceptre 4k UHD 49″ TV
- Jet = $402.87
- Amazon = $499.99 for the nearest comparable model (50″)
- York Peppermint Patties, bulk 175 count
- Jet = $12.89
- Amazon = $28.65
- Jaws DVD
- Jet = $5.89
- Amazon = $6.96
I could honestly go on. I just did my shopping for Courtney’s birthday, and built two carts. Jet came in at $50.03 and the exact same cart with Amazon came in at $67.43.
So what’s right with Jet? The savings, the service, and the shipping.
Jet makes money from membership fees ($50 annually though there is a free trial). Other companies make money from the markup on a product. The savings go to you. Additionally, the more you add to a cart, the more you can potentially save. Jet matches the items in your cart with the most efficient shipping options from the distributor, meaning they can save additional money. Jet also offers small savings if you decline certain options, such as free returns. There are certainly somethings you would not want to decline that for, but there are plenty that you could. Finally, Jet offers discounts based on your payment method. For example, if I choose to use a Visa credit card, they knock an additional .25% off your purchase. If I use my Visa debit, though, they’ll take off 1.5%.
I’ve been proactive in my feedback to the site during the beta. The longest it has taken Jet to respond with a personalized, customized message has been three minutes. You call, you talk to someone. I spoke to the lead of their member services department, and they are staffing so that they are never more than ~80% capacity for support volume. The goal and the plan is to always be slightly overstaffed so that no one ever sits on the phones. And like I said, the responses were customized. None of this scripted nonsense that makes you wonder if anything is every going to come of it.
They don’t do a Prime service, but they ship everything within 3-5 days. I had one shipment come today; I ordered it last night. That’s less than 24 hours. What did I pay for it? $0. Shipping on orders over $35 is free; less than that and it’s $5.99. And for you non-Prime Amazon users like me, don’t you find it odd that they always take the absolute max time to ship? If they tell me it’ll arrive in 5-8 business days, plan on 8. Not with Jet.
Having said all that, there is some bad, which can be summed up with searchability and selection.
The searching tools on Jet are nowhere near the quality of Amazon. Amazon is much simpler and more robust, and it’s easier to determine if you are looking at the right thing just from browsing the search results. This is much more difficult in Jet, though I do expect these issues will be reduced over time. The most frustrating search experience I’ve had yet was for a pair of pants. I’m not sure why (I suspect it’s because of the multiple distribution paths), but I was unable to find the brand and style I wanted and then see a listing of all available sizes and colors like you would on Amazon. Instead each individual size and color was a separate item. When I sent that to the feedback team at Jet, I received a prompt response that that was a known issue and that it was dependent on what you were looking for. Sure enough, a later search for a shirt showed that to be the case.
This shouldn’t surprise you, but Jet is nowhere near Amazon, especially in terms of media. Amazon is simply the go-to source to find anything and everything. That being said, Jet is young still, they are growing, and I think they will eventually give Amazon a run for the money.
So admitting that I’m biased (and I really am), I have to say that my Jet experiences so far have been largely happy. I do not think they will be a full replacement for Amazon just yet (selection issues, remember?), but if they have it on Jet and Amazon, I’m buying it off of Jet. The service is better, the shipping is faster, and the prices are often significantly lower. Going back to that first question–How on earth are you going to take on Amazon–they’re going to do it be out-Amazoning Amazon. In this rapid-paced world of never-ending changes, I question whether any company is dominant enough or stable enough to truly be unassailable. Besides, the goal isn’t to kill Amazon but rather give another option. Just like Costco did to Wal-mart. And guess what? Both are still in business today. So go give the Purple a try. I think you’ll like what you see!
Oh, and just for the record, Jet even beat out a lot of the much-touted Prime Day sales…. Just sayin’.