Jet.com Encounters Turbulence With Customers, Retailers

jet-logo11[1]For the past year marketplace startup Jet.com has been touted as a serious rival to Amazon (with cheaper prices, to boot), but the month since its public launch has shown that Jet.com is only a threat to itself.

The WSJ reports that Jet.com is catching flack from other retailers for its mishandling of its affiliate program, while at the same time I have a couple reports from customers that the experience of shopping at Jet.com more closely resembles the Spruce Goose than the Concorde.

One reader has privately recounted a tale similar to a public comment left last week:

I had placed my first order with jet.com and here is my short experience
1. After 4 days I received an email that they cancelled the most expensive item on my order – Steam Mop – because the listing was incorrect and they could not find it. Well whose mistake is this? And why should I suffer? PLUS after 4 days when you are expecting that item… Come on Jet.
2. After 6 days I receive an email saying some of the items on my order will be delayed. The email did not have details about what items were those. So Pathetic. Now I will have to wait for the order to find out which item I need to order again from some other seller.
3. After 11 days of my order, I receive another email saying one more item is cancelled because of unavailability. This is not acceptable at all. At least not something you expect from other online sellers – and not in the first order. Pity on you – Jet.

So after this experience, I don’t think I am going to trust Jet.com at all for any of my future order. Long live Amazon – Short live Jet.

Oh and did I forget to mention… they issued me a $2 credit for all this non-sense. Feel good now?

It would be ludicrous to predict the demise of Jet.com based on two negative comments, so I won't go there.

But I will note that I've checked past coverage of Jet.com. After scanning the comment sections of a dozen articles on major news sites, I could only find two other commenters who had done business with the startup (this, in spite of a year of gushing press coverage).

Perhaps consumers find Jet.com's service less appealing than the startup's "partners" find its business practices.

The WSJ reported on Thursday that the marketplace had been hit by a hailstorm of criticism from retailers. It seems that many did not appreciate the way that Jet.com used their logos to lend gravitas to its affiliate/cashback program:

Dozens of the nation’s largest retailers including Macy’s, Amazon.com, and Home Depot have quickly moved to disassociate themselves from new discount retail website Jet.com.

The retailers complained to Jet after discovering it had placed links to their sites without permission, promising its own members cash back for making purchases after clicking the links.

A comparison of Jet’s website on July 1 and on Tuesday reveals that more than 100 brands owned by at least 70 different companies have been removed, most in the week after the company’s July 21 launch.

Companies with multiple brands whose links have been withdrawn from Jet include heavyweights Wal-Mart Stores, Gap, Walgreens, Williams-Sonoma and L’Oréal SA. “If someone is using our brand without our permission, there are a multitude of concerns, and we’re not going to allow it,” said a Home Depot spokesman, who added that Jet was cooperative in removing his company’s logo after being asked to do so.

Jet.com would not be the first retailer to set up or participate in an affiliate program, but the way this startup went about it rubbed retailers the wrong way.

Rather than sign deals with each of the retailers mentioned above, Jet.com took a shortcut. It signed up with Viglink, which offers an affiliate service where non-retail sites (such as this blog) can earn a referral fee when they send consumers to retailers.

That service is funded by the retailers which pay the sites for the referrals, so you can understand how they would feel about paying a competitor for the customers it sends in their direction. And just as importantly, the retailers did not appreciate their logos being used to promote a competitor's service.

Jet.com first started getting attention in May 2015, but it only really became the press's darling a year ago when Diapers.com co-founder Marc Lore announced that his new startup had raised $55 million and planned to compete with Amazon. the company then went through a Series B funding round in February which raised $140 million, bringing Jet.com's total capital to $220 million (including $25 million in debt).

Jet.com's claim to fame is a $50 membership program that offers access to a marketplace where consumers are supposed to be able to find great deals. The startup had also talked about offering better deals to consumers who were willing to forego certain privileges, like paying with a credit card, but it's not clear how many of those special offers have been launched.

About Nate Hoffelder (11579 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader:"I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

6 Comments on Jet.com Encounters Turbulence With Customers, Retailers

  1. I have about 5-6 orders fulfilled by Jet.com so far, and while my experience is a lot more positive, there is a ton of room for improvement.

    Mostly, it comes down to logistics and dealing with said logistics. For example, items take longer than anticipated to ship, and when you get them, they’re from some random place, like Office Depot, Walmart, or some distributor you’ve never heard of.

    I ordered 2 monitors, and one ended up being the wrong model. It took 3 calls to finally get a return going (mostly because they said they would but they actually didn’t the first two times, which pissed me off). They issued a $20 credit for the inconvenience. In the end, I found the same U2415 monitor on Amazon for cheaper as it had just gone on sale.

    Having dealt with them this many times, however, I’m willing to continue dealing with them, but only for some stuff, when it becomes significantly cheaper to do so compared to Amazon. There are 2 reasons: price (once again) and lack of tax being charged by them in California for now.

    They pick up the phone instantly and are nice, just like Amazon. But logistics are very weird and shipping takes much longer. Amazon is by far the king of that castle.

    • How would the prices have compared to buying direct?

      The funny thing about Jet.com is that most retailers have marketplace sellers, only you don’t have to pay an entrance fee to buy from them. This includes BB, Walmart, and even B&N, and it makes me wonder if Jet’s idea is really going to work.

  2. I’ve only placed one order with Jet and it went smoothly.

  3. I placed one small order with Jet because the items were $1 less than Amazon. Adding in no sales tax (Amazon must charge it in my state) and the other perks like using a debit instead of a credit card, refusing the ability to return the ordered items saved another $2. The items
    While saving $3 is nice, it is not worth a $50 membership fee. Note I was given a free one year membership.

  4. We’re an online retailer. We signed up to sell on jet.com. It has been 24 days and still no approval. 7 emails written and 2 responses with nothing about saying your application is being processed or anything. Just thank you, we will get to your application soon. We have a perfect rating on both eBay & Amazon. 100 percent rating and 5 stars across the board. Our feedback & reviews are better than the top 1% of all online retailers. You think they would jump at the opportunity for us to be one of their featured merchants or retailers. At least get us approved to start selling or to set up our account. We find this unbelievable. We hope that they get everything shaped up soon. We were excited, now we’re just frustrated with the service and hoping that they do not treat everyone like this. If they do, we believe they are on a collision course with failure.

  5. my relative has ordered the costume for their daughter on Oct.17, however, almost 11 days still no delivery so far, this costume is for school parade use by this coming Friday. How can we do?? . From tracking info, shown it in NV on Oct 22nd, then no any movement from that date? Just one day left, still nobody even Jet help dept doesn’t know where is package going what is going on… Why said 2-5 day delivery on JET.COM. what is kind of shipping service they are?

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