Walmart recently strengthened its position in the online battle for retail customers with its acquisition of the ecommerce website Jet.com. Together, Walmart and Jet are aiming to strike a blow to Amazon’s dominance in the online marketplace. But, which is better – Amazon or Jet.com? What is Jet?
This new partnership not only affects the businesses, of course. But, it affects us, too. I’m a huge fan of Amazon Prime and Amazon Prime Now. So, I was curious about the differences between the two online shopping sites.
Whether you’re a staunch Amazon Prime supporter or you’re currently on the fence about proclaiming your loyalty to well-established Amazon or up-and-coming Jet, there are a few significant differences between the two sites that could affect your wallet for better or worse.
Amazon vs Jet.com
Jet initially charged membership fees when it launched a little over a year ago, but a few months afterwards, Jet surprised everyone by eliminating the $50 annual fee. Now, Jet members get free, 2-day shipping on most items (as long as your order is over $35, and there is a nifty dollar counter on the right-hand side of Jet’s website to help you track how close you are to the minimum order amount).
Amazon, on the other hand, charges $99 per year for its Prime membership (or $49 for the Amazon Student program). Not too many people seem deterred by the cost, as Amazon currently has over 54 million Prime members using its services.
Prime members get free, 2-day shipping (even same day shipping in some areas) on Prime-eligible items (almost anything sold or fulfilled by Amazon itself), as well as other unique membership benefits like music streaming, exclusive TV shows, movie streaming, access to the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (with hundreds of thousands of e-book titles) and cloud photo storage.
Jet is still relatively new in the online marketplace, which means its offerings for customers are slim compared to Amazon’s menu of options for Prime members. However, Jet is already showing signs that it will tackle other areas currently dominated by Amazon – such as grocery delivery services – which means that Jet could be a viable alternative for folks who don’t need all the bells and whistles that come with an Amazon Prime membership.
When Jet first launched, Jet’s prices beat out Amazon in many categories. As a smaller company taking on a giant, Jet continues to pull out all the stops to attract new customers, including a “TRIPLE15” promotion that takes 15% off your first 3 orders on Jet.com.
Jet also boasts that customers can “Watch prices drop as you shop!” Customers are able to choose lower prices by opting out of free returns, using debit cards to pay for orders, and ordering multiple quantities of single items. The different price options are displayed to the right of the product images, and the more you buy, the more you save on the price-per-item.
Amazon, on the other hand, lists regular prices in black and its “exclusive” prices in red, along the total dollar amount you save. There are occasionally coupons available for Amazon items, but usually the price you see is the price you’ll pay.
Although many studies in 2015 proclaimed Jet to be the cheaper alternative to Amazon, new research suggests Jet’s prices aren’t too different from Amazon. The new study – conducted by Boomerang Commerce, which also studied Jet’s and Amazon’s price differences in 2015 – found that Jet only offered cheaper prices on 16% of the best-selling items on Amazon, whereas Amazon’s prices were 44% cheaper than Jet’s for the same items.
The takeaway here? Comparison-shop on both sites before making a purchase because either site could offer a better price, depending on the item.
Jet is at a disadvantage when it comes to inventory comparisons. Amazon has millions of items available, both brand name and generic alike, on its website and countless vendors also offer their items for sale through the Amazon marketplace. Having come online just a year ago, Jet is still getting up to speed with its growing inventory, but it remains no match for Amazon.
If you’re looking for something specific, there’s a chance Jet might have it in stock. With Amazon, it’s practically guaranteed. Searching for items with little success can be frustrating for time-strapped shoppers, who are likely to turn to Amazon just for the convenience factor. Until Jet seriously ramps up its inventory, Amazon will continue to be the winner for this category.
Credit vs. Debit Card Purchases
A nice perk Jet offers debit card shoppers is an additional discount on orders paid for with a debit card instead of a credit card. However, there are many reasons why you should avoid paying with a debit card. Those include security concerns and a lack of rewards that come with debit cards.
Speaking of rewards, Amazon may not offer debit card discounts, but it does offer its own Amazon Visa rewards credit card. If you’re a cardholder, you get 3% cash back on Amazon purchases. You also get 2% back on dining and gas, and 1% cash back on everything else. That’s not a bad deal, if you’re try to achieve financial stability while still indulging in some of the benefits credit cards have to offer.
Neither site is perfect. While Jet is off to a great start, it has quite a long journey until it can truly compete with Amazon. If you’re number one goal is saving money, then don’t automatically assume Jet is cheaper just because everyone else says so.
Comparison shopping before making a purchase is your best bet. And, don’t forget to add in shipping costs if your non-Prime order on Amazon is under the minimum threshold for free shipping. If additional benefits beyond free shipping are just as important as price, then Amazon is still the best option.
Have you shopped at Jet.com? Is it better than Amazon? I’d love to hear your thoughts.