Alternatives to Amazon Shopping
It’s obvious that Amazon is the 800-pound gorilla of e-commerce. Amazon captured 37% of online holiday season sales in 2016, and 53% of all growth in online sales for the full year. But it’s not the only digital department store. Let’s look at some of the others to see how they compare to Amazon...
Check Out These Online Shopping Sites
I'll admit at the outset that I shop frequently on Amazon. Prices tend to be good, I like the wide selection, and the free 2-day shipping with Amazon Prime. And because they've been around for about 20 years, their customer ratings and reviews are filled with helpful information that I often check before making a buying decision.
Amazon Prime is mostly known for their offer of free 2-day shipping, with a yearly $99 subscription. But it also includes free same-day delivery in eligible zip codes, one-hour delivery from popular restaurants in eligible ZIP codes, unlimited Prime Video streaming of movies and TV episodes, unlimited, ad-free access to more than a million songs with Prime Music, the Kindle Owners Lending Library, and a bunch of other benefits. You can try Amazon Prime free for 30 days.
But there are other online ecommerce sites that you should know about, which offer some unique shopping features. At the very least, it's a good idea to compare prices and shipping options on multiple sites.
Jet.com was founded in January, 2014, and its rise has been jet-propelled. The site went online in July, 2015, launching with 4.5 million products. The company was valued at $1.3 billion by May, 2016, and the company had launched a grocery home delivery service akin to Amazon Fresh. In August, 2016, Walmart acquired Jet.com for $3 billion in cash and $300 million in Walmart stock.
One of Jet.com’s core features is a “realtime pricing algorithm” that attempts to price a specific unit of a product based upon the cost of getting it to the customer; the “marginal cost” of a sale, in economics terms. Factors affecting the marginal cost include proximity to the customer and, in the case of multiple items, co-location in a distribution center. Using a less expensive payment method (debit vs. credit card, for instance) would lower the price.
Giving up the right to return an item would further reduce its price. In other words, Jet.com is for shoppers to whom price is the most important factor and who are willing to spend an unusual amount of time and trouble to get the lowest price.
Let's Do Some Math...
So how does that work in practice? I priced a Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge phone with 32 GB of storage. It started at $519.50; Amazon’s price was $518.99. Foregoing return privileges lowered the Jet price to $510.15, and paying by debit card made the price $515.34. Combining no-return and debit card savings yields a price of $506.07, $12.92 or 2.9% less than Amazon.
I did notice that Jet can be skimpy on tech details and specs. I was trying to compare prices on a Bosch dishwasher on both Amazon and Jet, but nowhere could I find the model number in the Jet description. On the upside, Jet offers free shipping for orders over $35 (no need to pay $99 for Amazon Prime) and free returns.
Jet Anywhere is a program that lets users buy from other online stores and earn “JetCash” that can be spent at Jet.com. Ann Taylor, Nike, Hotels.com, and Bloomingdale’s are partners in this program.
If you want to try Jet.com, new customers can use coupon code SPRING10 to save 10% of the first three orders. There's a minimum of $50 in eligible merchandise per order required, and a maximum discount of $20 per order. This offer expires 8/1/2017.
Buy.com was an early ecommerce pioneer, founded in 1997. It was purchased by Japanese ecommerce giant Rakuten in 2010 and is now officially known as Rakuten.com Shopping. Rakuten is a marketplace, like eBay, in which many sellers have independent shops that often sell the same things. I found 9 sellers offering “Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge 32 GB,” with prices ranging from about $620 to $680 for unlocked versions.
Here's one of my pet peeves… Rakuten is a classic example of a company changing their name from something that's short and intuitive to something weird and hard to remember. I've read that "rakuten" means optimism in Japanese, but still, that name has no connection to online shopping.
Of course there are dozens of other online shopping sites. You may want to poke around on Overstock.com, Walmart.com, Target.com, or Bestbuy.com. Alexa maintains a list of the most popular ecommerce sites, broken down into 35 categories.
Amazon is still the first place I look when shopping, and often the last. But it never hurts to check prices and terms on other shopping sites as well. Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below…
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 11 Apr 2017
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Alternatives to Amazon Shopping (Posted: 11 Apr 2017)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved