Jet and Other Alternatives to Amazon Shopping
It’s obvious that Amazon is the 800-pound gorilla of e-commerce. Recent ecommerce stats show that Amazon captures about HALF of all online sales. 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 $119 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.
One other perk of shopping at Amazon is AmazonSmile. If you start your shopping at smile.amazon.com instead of www.amazon.com, Amazon donates 0.5% of the price of your eligible purchases to a charitable organization of your choice. Amazon Smile has donated over $124 million (USD) to charities since launching the program five years ago.
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 their “real-time savings engine” that makes prices drop as you shop. Jet will lower the price of certain items in your cart when you add other items. This typically works with household "essentials," so adding something like toothpaste could save you money on cereal or paper towels. No majors or lady suffragettes are involved - Jet does this because these items can be packed and shipped together.
Jet offers free 2-5 day delivery, faster 2-day delivery on thousands of everyday essentials, and free returns on "almost everything" within 30 days. Orders that don’t meet the free delivery minimum are subject to a $5.99 delivery fee. Jet is a little vague on the "free delivery minimum," referring you to the specific items in your cart. But in my experience, that threshhold is usually $35. You can also save money by opting out of free returns. This also varies by product, but as I like to say, any money saved "is better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick." Jet used to automatically apply an additional 1.5% discount on your order if you paid with a your debit card, but that seems to have been discontinued.
Let's Do Some Math...
So how does Jet work in practice? I priced out a Samsung Galaxy S9 64gb Unlocked Smartphone at both Amazon and Jet. The item was $549 at Jet ($9.90 off for opting out of free returns). The only option was free 7-day shipping, fulfilled by a 3rd party. I did find the same item with free two-day shipping (fulfilled by Jet) but the price was $597. Amazon's price was $499 with free one-day shipping - a clear winner in this case.
I also compared prices on dishwashers. Jet had a pretty slim selection of dishwashers, no Whirlpool or Bosch models, and only 2 GE or Samsung models. They seem to focus on Frigidaire and other lesser-known brands. On Jet, the Frigidaire Gallery 24" Stainless Steel Built-In Dishwasher had a list price of $959.99, on sale for $762.52, and $6.48 off for opting out of free returns. The exact same item sells for $597.60 on Amazon. That's quite a difference in price.
It could well be that I just happened to pick two items that demonstrated a price advantage for Amazon. I've read other reviews where people say they've saved money by purchasing household items such as paper towels, breakfast cereal, and dog food at Jet. It's good to have choices, and it's always a good idea to comparison shop.
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 that Samsung Galaxy S9 64gb Unlocked Smartphone, with prices ranging from $498 to $740.
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, but not always the last. I am a little troubled by the thought that one online shopping site handles about half of all ecommerce transactions. So before hitting the "Buy it Now" button, 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 8 Apr 2019
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Jet and Other Alternatives to Amazon Shopping (Posted: 8 Apr 2019)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved