E-commerce competition is tough out there these days, especially with the marketplace giant, Amazon, crowding the field. There have been plenty of attempts to grapple with Amazon’s tight hold on profits and growth, with Jet.com most recently picking up the baton in a head-to-head fight for online sales. The company’s recent acquisition by Walmart hasn’t gone unnoticed, and already analysts are speculating on what this means for Walmart’s e-commerce plans. Maybe Jet.com really is the answer to busting Amazon’s vice grip on cheap prices. But how does the newcomer stack up to Amazon’s bargain barrel pricing?
We did a side-by-side analysis of the prices between Jet.com and Amazon to assuage our own skepticism that Jet.com really could compete with the online retail giant, and our findings came out kinda . . . interesting. First, we’ll show you how Jet.com and Amazon accounts compare on the basics.
Jet.com vs. Amazon
To get the same kinds of perks Jet.com gives members, you’ll need a Prime account on Amazon. That costs $99 per year (or $8.25 if you break it down monthly). However, Prime also comes with unlimited streaming video, something Jet.com does not have (and if you factor in other streaming services, like Netflix or HBOGo, Prime beats them both in monthly fees). An Amazon account also gets you access to their credit cards, which give you extra perks if you’re approved, like 3% back on all Amazon purchases. A Jet.com account gets you free 2-5 day shipping after $35 (but forget it if you’re a resident of Hawaii or Alaska; no shipping for you!) and requires no membership fee. It’ll also get you access to JetAnywhere, which is a cash back program with more than 600 merchants to shop through. So far, Jet.com seems like the easier option for more casual deal shoppers, but how do the shopping carts compare?
We put together two shopping carts, one comparing Amazon’s Prime Pantry with Jet.com’s groceries category. We chose identical, random items across both websites to compare prices, discounts and shipping options. It was sometimes hard to find the same item, since Amazon’s selection is so much wider than Jet.com’s, which is something consumers should consider when shopping. You may have to buy generic on Jet.com or forego your favorite product altogether.
Jet.com has a unique little feature that lowers the prices of the items in your cart based on select items you add to the cart. Because we were shopping groceries, the more grocery products I added, the lower the cost of my whole order. Jet.com also allows customers to lower the individual prices of their items by selecting certain options; in this case, I was offered the ability to waive free returns on my grocery items in exchange for a few cents off their cost. Not every item has this feature, but it definitely adds up on the ones that do. Here’s the final cart, after all the discounts:
Jet.com Grocery Shopping Cart
For all seven of these items, we ended up at $40 on Jet.com. Moving over to Amazon, things started out pretty strong with several items coming in at lower prices and a couple of $0.25 and $2 off coupons that Amazon let me clip for quick discounts. The moment I added the KIND Bars, however, it all went downhill. The final tally for Amazon came out to be $42.25, plus adding the $5.99 flat delivery fee for Pantry boxes (which can be mitigated if you have the No-Rush shipping credit from buying other stuff on Amazon).
Amazon Grocery Shopping Cart
It was down to a few bucks and some change, but Jet.com won the grocery battle. What about other essentials, like back-to-school? We put together another set of carts to test the waters:
Jet.com Back-to-School Shopping Cart
Amazon Back-to-School Shopping Cart
The final tally on these two carts was vastly different than the grocery carts, with Jet.com coming in at $80.49 and Amazon soundly defeating that price at $49.08 (and even with shipping, it was lower than $80.49). Jet.com was not only difficult to navigate when it came to finding items due to repetitive product entries and titles, it was overall more expensive on exactly the same items as Amazon when it came to back-to-school stuff. We’re left wondering if the 30-pack of pencils on Jet.com is what it says it is, since its $22.16 price is so much higher than Amazon’s $3.79.
Amazon wins out with its selection of services and massive variety of product options and merchants available on its site, providing users with ebook and audiobook catalogs and streaming licensed and exclusive movies and shows. Its organization and category management is also head and shoulders above Jet.com’s, meaning the start-up has a long way to go to match Amazon’s curb appeal. It also allows users to rate and review products and merchants, something Jet.com doesn’t have.
Jet.com wins with pricing; even though it flopped hard on back-to-school, its grocery prices and pricing in other categories trounced Amazon’s in many cases. It’s also free to play; no need to subscribe to access free, fast shipping or access to savings. They also vet their merchants stringently, keeping out scammers and other unreliable retailers. Time will only tell how this newbie improves its deals game.
Amazon fails on pricing and merchant vetting, sometimes flooding its own market with knock-offs and unscrupulous merchants. Its Prime feature is also a huge barrier to many people, locking out casual users from Prime Day sales and keeping the best free shipping options for only its most elite members.
Jet.com’s categories section clearly has consistency issues, things Amazon shoppers don’t have to worry about, even with its free-for-all marketplace atmosphere. Jet.com also can’t match Amazon’s services or the sheer number of products listed in its database. It’s possible now with Walmart backing it Jet.com will rise to the occasion of competing with Amazon. But for now, its only power is the sometimes-lower prices on products.