Okay… so Amazon may not be the friendliest place to work. Recently, a few of my friends mentioned to me that after reading The New York Times article on Amazon’s toxic work culture, they’re thinking of ending their Amazon relationship. As I tried to consider my own ethics position on all of this, my conscience was quickly interrupted by the ‘hunting and gathering’ part of my brain…
“Where else is there to shop?!”
First off, I’ve got to admit the irony of my own question, because it was only a few short years ago when I was still dipping my toes into the water of online shopping. I remember calling it,
“The Joy of Shopping at Midnight in your Underwear.”
Now, I simply can’t do without online shopping… day or night. I’ve long ago applied those former brick and mortar shopping hours to other aspects of my busy life.
Married to Amazon
So yes, Amazon has firmly become my go-to online shopping site for quite some time now.
- It’s simple.
- There’s always a huge selection.
- Amazon Prime’s free shipping seems like such a deal even at $99/year.
(Not to mention the load of other benefits Amazon is piling onto Prime)
- And Amazon’s pricing usually beats the pants off of brick and mortar stores.
But even without all of the bad press Jeff Bezos has received, I’ve grown a tad uncomfortable with the idea of shopping at only one URL.
(How do you know if the pricing has remained competitive?)
To be fair, I do go to a few other online destinations…
Cheating on Amazon
- If I’m looking to buy some tech, I usually log on to B&H Photo. The best price is usually there…
- When my son was still in diapers, I frequented Diapers.com and eventually dropped some coin on its affiliated websites- Wag.com, Soap.com and Yoyo.com. The pricing was sometimes competitive, but the free shipping (if you spent more than $49) always seemed to beat out Amazon’s 2-day Prime delivery.
(The huge irony here is Amazon has owned Quidsi, the parent company of Diapers.com since 2011. I didn’t know this until I started writing this post.)
I also spend my money with a few specialty online merchants, such as…
…When its photo printing paper goes on sale
- Counter Culture Coffee
…When I’m looking to splurge on my cup of Joe
…But for the vast majority of my home staples…
- Paper towels
- Toilet paper
- Cat food
- Ziploc sandwich bags
- Cree LED light bulbs
- My favorite crackers
- Dish Soap
- (As well as an assortment of other items)
…I’ve been hitting up Amazon.
And while the convenience can’t be beat, I really don’t know how good the deals are anymore.
(No, I haven’t yet taken the obvious step of price comparisons at my local supermarket.)
I think it would be nice (and appropriate) if Amazon had a little competition… right?
Well, guess what?…. Hello, Jet.com!
Jet has Landed
Jet launched a couple months back, and it’s clearly looking to undercut Amazon’s pricing.
Co-founded by Marc Lore, who used to run Diapers.com (note the irony), Jet is structured somewhat like an online Costco with a $49.99 annual membership fee. (The first three ‘trial’ months are free, before you have pay up.)
And then you get ‘club-price’ discounts in several ways:
- The more you spend, the greater the discount.
- If you waive your right to a free return, you get a little more off.
- You also get additional discounts for certain payment methods. (like debit cards)
Jet claims its profit model is focused entirely on its membership club fee, which allows it to sell items at the lowest prices.
Taking a Ride on Jet.com
So I signed up for my free trial and took Jet out for a spin…
- First off, it’s base pricing usually just seemed to match Amazon’s.
(Burt’s Bees Baby Bee Shampoo and Wash was a price match.)
Sometimes the pricing hovered a few cents either way.
(Brown Rice Snaps were slightly more expensive.)
- Jet gives you an Amazon comparison tool right there on the page.
- But then, Jet applies an immediate discount, which grows if you order multiples of the same item. And as you put more things in your cart, your overall discount keeps growing.
- When you’re ready to check out, there’s indeed a significant savings. On my first order I saved $17.54 off the $72.54 subtotal. Plus free shipping. And no tax.
- I don’t pretend to understand how all the discounting is applied.
(‘Smart Items’ are supposed to save you more.)
But at the end of the day, it’s less than shopping on Amazon.
- And Jet even has a guarantee that if you don’t save at least $49.99 with your membership, they’ll refund the difference.
- Just like Amazon, Jet sometimes finds your item through another retailer.
So what’s the downside?
Jet doesn’t have (yet) the same massive selection as Amazon. I couldn’t find everything I wanted… No bags of Caribou Coffee… and Ziploc sandwich bags only in quantities of 500.
- Delivery speed
Every order doesn’t get to you in two days. Sometimes the free shipping takes 2-5 days.
(And that’s fine, as long as you’re not in a huge rush.)
Jet Vs. Amazon
Is Jet an Amazon killer? No, not really.
But I can’t tell you how happy I am that finally there’s some good, old-fashioned competition to Amazon out there.
And it doesn’t hurt that Jet gives you $10 off your first order (over $35) with a ‘TENBUCKSNOW” discount code.
(That’s on top of the other savings.)
So all this said, will I still continue to use Amazon?
(Even though it may be a terrible place to work.)
But now, Jet has immediately become a cost-savings alternative for much of my general online shopping needs…
Am I rooting for the little guy?
Can Jet beat Amazon at its own game?
We’ll have to wait and see…