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Buzz Grows as Amazon Rival Jet.com Opens Doors

For an ecommerce site that hasn’t even launched, Jet has received lots of media attention over the past year or so. And as the site prepares to open to the public on Tuesday, there’s even more media frenzy.

Tom’s Guide explains what Jet is: “Say you come across a tablet as you’re browsing Jet.com, and place it in your cart. Then, you see a pair of headphones and add that to your cart. In the background, Jet.com will find retailers that have both those items, and you’ll get $5 (an arbitrary amount for this example) off your total order. If you add another item to your bucket and Jet.com is able to find a store that has all three products, you could get more of a discount, because putting it all in one box saves the seller money.” And that’s just the beginning – the publication explains even more ways to save on Jet.com.

Of course, there’s a cost to all that savings: “You’ll need to pay about $50 a year for membership, similar to the $55 yearly for a Costco Gold Star (basic) subscription, to access the special prices. The company says you’ll save an average of $150 a year if you shop with it.”

The Wall Street Journal’s page-one story on Monday noted the hype in its headline, “Frenzy Around Shopping Site Jet.com Harks Back to Dot-Com Boom.” The newspaper wrote, “Despite steep losses and looming competition with Amazon.com, online retailer is in talks for capital infusion that could value it at $3 billion.”

Clearly part of the media attention is the premise that Jet stands a chance against ecommerce giant Amazon.com. Forbes explained in February, “Though the company has yet to launch, it has gained a large amount of attention, namely due to the previous success of Lore, who created Quidsi and sold it to Amazon.com in 2010 for $550 million.”

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While Jet.com has a different model than Amazon, the comparisons are inevitable. But while Amazon is tight-lipped about all areas of its operations and performance, the New York Post said New Jersey’s Jet.com promised to be an open book. Quoting Jet’s founder : “We’ll disclose gross merchandise sales, number of new members, average order size, number of orders, repeat rate, units per order. We’ll give cash flow, cash on hand, whatever people need.”

The company itself added a countdown clock to its home page at Jet.com. “Club price savings on pretty much everything you buy,” it reads. “Enter your email to get a free 6-month membership when we launch.”

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.