(Updated 10/07/16) I was really happy to see Jet.com go live to the public late last month. Whenever a new service comes along that threatens to top the “big dog” (Amazon), the customer almost always comes out ahead. For those who’ve not yet heard, Jet.com is attempting to compete with Amazon by offering a paid service similar to Prime. With this exciting news, I figured it was time to break-down both services and inform you of the positives and negatives of each. By doing so, you can easily make an informed decision that fits your lifestyle.
How it works: Jet.com is the brainchild of the brilliant online entrepreneur Marc Lore, who previously co-founded Quidsi, the parent company of a family of websites including Diapers.com and Soap.com. Jet works by charging a $49.99 annual fee, (Update 12/13/15: Jet no longer charges an annual fee). You get free shipping on $35 along with free returns and free 2-day delivery on household essentials.
Many items are eligible for 2-day shipping if you place your order by 2 p.m. in the time zone of your order’s destination. For orders under $35, you’ll be charged a $5.99 shipping charge. Also, returns must be initiated within 30 days of receiving items. They’re currently offering a coupon for 15% off your first 3 orders (Use code: TRIPLE15).
- Build a “Smart Cart”: Best way to explain this is with a couple examples. You add peanut butter to your cart, it lowers the price of jelly. You add a baseball bat to your cart, it drops the price of a batting helmet by $8. By using a pricing algorithm to help you build your “Smart Cart”, Jet can figure out which suppliers are near your location, and how best to get items (especially add-on items) to you cheaply and efficiently. Pretty cool stuff.
- Waive Free Returns in Exchange for Lower Price: An excellent way to BEAT Amazon in price is to waive the free returns option. In the example below you can waive free returns and save $10.52 on a Samsung 32″ HDTV. Typically, when you have a problem with a significant purchase like a TV you’re going need to contact the manufacturer for a replacement making the money saved waiving free returns worth it. Also keep in mind that you only have 30 days to return an item for free.
- Use a Debit Card and Save. When checking out, you can opt to use a debit card and save another 1.5% off your total purchase. Also, you can use a Visa or MasterCard and save an additional 0.25% off your total.
- Make Dynamic Pricing Work to Your Advantage: While dynamic pricing is typically a bad thing for consumers, Jet makes it a good thing and actually lowers the price depending on your location and shopping preferences.
- They Have Coupons. I just found a coupon for Jet that’ll give you $10 off your first order of $35 or more, use code SAVESMART when checking out. Amazon has coupons as well, but none for a flat discount on everything. Usually you can find them for specific products and shopping categories but that’s about it.
- Quick Amazon Price Comparisons: Jet does a pretty darn good job of matching their prices to Amazon. Right under their listed price, they actually have a link that you can click on and see the exact Amazon product page to do a quick price comparison. You can then tell Jet if the price matches or not. Check out the screen capture below to see where you click on Jet.com to check the price on Amazon. I clicked around on dozens of various products and the price matched Amazon almost every time.
- $35 Order Required to get Free Shipping: This is a big deal. The beauty of Amazon Prime is you can order a pair of nail clippers, then 10 minutes later remember you also need a pack of AA batteries. Not a problem on Amazon, but with Jet you’re going to have to wait until you need at least $35 worth of merchandise or be hit by a $5.99 shipping charge.
- 2-Day Shipping Not Always Possible: Only select items typically qualify for 2-day shipping on Jet.com. Mostly your household type items like cleaners, detergent, toilet paper, soaps, and the like. Most electronics have a 2-5 day shipping window.
How it works: Most of us are quite familiar with Amazon Prime by this point. For a $99 annual fee, you get free 2-day shipping on millions of products, plus a bunch of other cool Prime Perks. They also offer a free 30-day trial so you can test it out first.
- Free 2-day Shipping. This is pretty dang awesome. Stuff always arrives within 2 days or you get money back.
- Prime Music Streaming Service. If you’re the main Amazon Prime account holder, and not an invited guest, you now have “unlimited, ad-free access to Prime Playlists and more than a million songs and albums at no additional cost.”
- Unlimited Photo Storage. Your $99 annual membership now comes with unlimited cloud storage with a service called Amazon Prime Photos.
- Free Streaming Video. I had my Prime membership for over a year before I knew about the Prime Streaming option and it’s definitely worth using.
- Early Access to Deals. Are you aware that Amazon owns a website called MyHabit.com which allows early-access discounts for Prime members on apparel (for the entire family), shoes, jewelry, handbags, and home items? Yeah, me neither.
- Amazon Already Has Free Shipping on $35. I mean sure, the free 2-day shipping all orders is a great incentive, but are you aware that Amazon already offers free shipping on $35+ orders? Why not wait until you need at least $35 in merchandise and then place your order.
- Prime Membership Makes You a Lazy Shopper. This may be the single biggest reason why the Amazon Prime membership is a bad buy for many. Put simply, it makes many consumers flat out lazy. They don’t compare pricing anymore, they don’t haggle for a better price, they don’t take advantage of retailer’s price match policies, and they sure as heck don’t seek out coupons in order to get the best deal possible. Instead they head straight to Amazon.com and click a single ‘Buy It Now’ button and viola!, it magically appears on their doorstep two days later.
- Ridiculously Easy to Overspend. I believe that many Amazon Prime members feel they need to shop with them as much as possible in order to recoup the membership fee. I have talked with enough loyal Amazon shoppers over the years to confirm this phenomena. So what is the outcome? People buying everything under the sun from Amazon, often paying much more than they would at their local store, in order to get the free 2-day shipping.
So which service is better? It really depends on your shopping habits. Do you shop online a lot and order every little thing from Amazon? If so, Amazon Prime is better for you.
But…if you shop for many items online, but only complete a few orders per month, then Jet.com is probably a smarter way to go. Especially if you can consistently waive free returns and consequently get a better price than at Amazon.
Bottom-line is that while both services have their respective positives and negatives, the average consumer clearly wins this battle. Because Jet.com has come along and is attempting to take market share from Amazon, it will do nothing but force Amazon to keep prices low and stay one step ahead of the competition when it comes to customer relations and services provided.
Ask the Reader: Have you given Jet.com a spin yet? If so, how did you find the shopping experience and were they able to sway you away from Amazon.com?
By Kyle James
Photo by Maurizio Pesce.