Jet.com takes off but why jump onboard?

Jet.com
Launch Day for Jet.com

Today marks a huge day for Jet.com. Their founder and chief executive Marc Lore came from Amazon after selling a company to them years ago. He has been said to have learned how to build a company that:

Customers are passionate about & willing to pay a premium to join.

To that end, he’s raised $220 million to launch the jet.com. He’s been said his plan is to raise another $300 million over the next five years (source: The WSJ). That insane but if you want to compete against his former suitor and employer, it will take deep pockets.

So with GREAT anticipation, I signed up in advance and got a great offer: 6 months free (about a $25 value). I then plunged into shop mode looking for a deal. After 10 minutes, I got bored. I found a couple of cool price comparisons against Amazon.com (loved that feature) but over time, it should not send someone AWAY from the jet.com website. That’s an ecommerce 101 no no. My sentiment after looking for a good deal on launch day: now I know why it’s free through Christmas – the site needs help. It just falls short of being a compelling experience.

My initial reaction was asking if they were Amway. Many don’t remember the early launch of Quixtar in 1999. If you missed that momentous day, then jump over to jet.com. It’s identical. I wish I had a better comparison, but that’s about how good Quixtar was back then (as of May 1, 2009, Amway Global changed it’s name to Quixtar). Why such a harsh comparison? One word: Merchandising.

At first appearances, they have the free shipping option (and promoted free returns) when you spend $35. Ok, that’s average.

Jet.com Merchandising

Next, the homepage today looks messy. A lot of purple (a favorite color of mine) forced to highlight their value: many items with great savings. I didn’t realize I also joined a club, but that’s ok as long as it’s a good club.

When I try to find my first item, a new iPhone, they only showed 1 in stock… two others out of stock and that was it. Again, not impressed.

Due to the nature of the site design, it’s nothing more than an ordering mechanism. Know what you want and go hunt for it. If they have it and are proud to show their savings over Amazon, they will show you them side by side. It’s their mantra – beat amazon.

The main goal of the site becomes apparent… compete against Amazon (but only on price).

Selection? I have no idea how they compare. They could have loaded their database with tons-o-junk to say they have a huge selection but who knows. I don’t have time to think of something I don’t need.

Tip to Jet.com executive team. I love your concept and wish you the best. But if all you plan to do is to offer Insane Prices, then you’ll become a Crazy Eddy.

(note: no reference to their legal issues, just their best price promise)

Crazy Eddy did a decent job promoting their merchandise. The product was put out in front and the deal was highlighted. Today, on jet.com, you’re not showing me anything I can’t find elsewhere. So you have to make the experience special, please. Find out what I’d like to buy and present the deals to me.

Take a page out of Costco and setup sampling stations around the store.You know you don’t NEED those items they’re sharing with you but since you’re in shopping mode, sell it to them. Show off your selection and price – your value proposition. When you walk into a club store (BJs, Sams, Costco) you know where to walk because it’s laid out well. It’s easy to walk a store. It’s difficult to browse an online store. And as of today’s launch jet.com, you only rely on the search bar. That will fail in a big way. You MUST merchandise and create a shopping experience.

Some ideas: place a deal of the day (yes, it communicates that it changes daily) on the homepage. Place top category deals up front. If you rely on the search bar, then those who get the free trial will discover what I have today – a difficult to navigate site. Without skin in the game (a paid membership), the customer will not invest to justify the experience. In other words, when you pay for a club, it compels you to participate so you get your money out of the membership. When it’s FREE, consumers won’t hunt for the deal the same way. They wont be as loyal to the club. They won’t spend as much as a paid customer would spend.

Just my initial comments in hopes you’re listening. I like the promise of competition for Amazon (and Walmart) but you have major work cut out for jet.com… The good news? It’s only day one for your company.

Wishing you the best!

~ Dave

If you want the 6 month special, just use the promo code: FREE6 (don’t know how long that will work).

Amazon’s PrimeDay was SubPrime to me

My Review of Amazon’s 20th Anniversary: #PRIMEDAY

Amazon PrimeDayMost people heard about the upcoming Amazon Prime Day this July 15th (7-15-2015). Amazon strategically spent resources on a PR front and media blitz to run spot ads promoting the event. However, while it will move the needle for Amazon, it misses the mark on the most important aspect of this day: their Prime Customers.

Let me first share – Happy Anniversary Amazon. Today, it’s their 20th Anniversary. There are many things to celebrate alongside Jeff Bezos and other eCommerce companies. Bezos did eCommerce better than anyone else. He cracked the code first in Books, Music then everything else. Something similar I pitched QVC before I worked for them in 1996 – a show concept I called A to Z. They didn’t like the show idea but liked me to bring me on board. I went to QVC for one reason: to get into eCommerce – a new business venture they were brainstorming and exploring which finally rolled out in stages over the next five years. The early name: iQVC. I fought hard between 1999-2001 to change it to QVC.com and executive management finally came around to agree. Those were the good ole days.

Today’s Amazon 20th Anniversary should have been a statement for eCommerce: to show us how it’s done twenty years later. However, I woke up today to little fanfare or excitement or even reminders – today’s a BIG DAY for retail. So here’s what I’ve taken in and learned about Amazon through #PrimeDay 2015.

1) NO EMAIL REMINDER?
That’s right, nothing to celebrate the day. This should have been a no brainer. You have my email address, I’ve given permission and have opted in for promotions… but I didn’t get an event email.

Amazon PrimeMusic Email
Note: I did get one email – but it was to push PrimeMusic which I use on occasion but it promoted their Sweepstakes over the big event.

2) SELF PROMOTION.
Lots of Amazon branded items highlighted in their sale, but that’s where it ends and looks like an everyday event. Oh, you can get their new PrimePantry items (no thanks). And a special PrimeMusic sweepstakes (more on that below).

Amazon PrimeDay Deals

3) LIGHTENING DEALS.
No, I didn’t come to Amazon to buy a Kindle or Firestick (already have them). The main feature they used to promote their PrimeDay offers is something I visit often: Lightening Deals. That’s where they show items offered for a limited time of limited quantity of specially marked-down items until their either sell out OR time runs out. I bring up a very important issue here: so many items requires a lot of time to sort through these deals.

4) NO PERSONALIZATION.
This may be my biggest disappointment with their 20th Anniversary. At this point in time, I except Amazon to know me, my family (including my kids). They don’t. They have all the data they need to see what I’ve bought (purchase history), what I want (wish list) and what I would likely buy in the future (if they did a good job using big data and look-alike profiles) through personalization. Today, it’s still not present for their sale. They don’t even recommend anything to me. It’s just the standard retail free-for-all.

5) DISCOVERY.
Same thing, it’s missing. Today’s sale, like Black Friday, feels like Walmart’s $5 DVD bin in the back of the store where I have to spend precious time to *maybe* find something of interest. While the Lightening Deals offers a filter feature to show only the categories I’d like to see, you can still only view them one at a time. Let ME, the customer, the Prime Member (better than a regular customer) – shop smarter! Give me the ability to choose a few categories and display only them.

I also will likely not be back because the future lightening sales are either not populated (you don’t tell me that, I don’t see many future items loaded like you do daily or even on Black Friday).

Amazon PrimeDay Deals

6) DISAPPOINTMENT.
When I was trying to search through the Lightening Deals, all you showed me Amazon were those claimed or sold out items – some w/ no waitlist. Over 50% were gone – so why can’t I remove them from my view? Seeing an empty shelf in retail is one thing but online I don’t have time to look at empty shelves.

Update (11am 7/15): Between Midnight (12:00am) ET and 10am ET when more than 70% of the U.S. would have awakened with Amazon excitement and checked out their site, 80% of the deals had yet to post. In other words, people lined up outside, doors opened and the rush began only to find junk (well, that’s what we call a failed sale). The shelves had nothing special. No one said – come back later when the sale begins. Why should we expect that was going to be the case?

As of 11am ET, I decided to come back and to my amazement, the store was loaded with deals (over 2000 Prime Exclusives). A merchandising error or oversight? Force everyone to think it starts 7-8am PT and not tell anyone when to come back? I don’t know but at that point, you already lost the east coast Amazon. Shoppers made up their mind – this was a bust.

7) ACQUISITION.
Yes, this was and is a means of getting new Prime Members. Unfortunately, when you have a large base of customers who have Prime, you need to make it really special for them. The ad spend seems to only support the company goal – getting new revenue from subscriptions that will lead to increase spend from this key buying group.

Yet as a customer who uses Amazon weekly AND has a reward card, you did little for me today. Didn’t make it easier, didn’t give me something I want (or even need) and you turned me away asking why this was bigger than Black Friday.

Shopping is a sport these days. It’s entertainment to many. It is also personal.  Amazon needs to relearn the basics: Basic Mobile, Social and Email Marketing, Cross Selling, Personalization, Promotion.

There is a sweet spot in retail when both merchandising and marketing are aligned and hitting all cylinders. Today’s Amazon event gives every retailer HOPE they can beat Amazon on all these other fronts. It appears Amazon is becoming mature like Walmart and other oversized retailers – some past their prime like Sears.

Their Achilles heal is to do it the same way only bigger and not making it better.

Amazon seemed to neglect the aspect of keeping it easy, fun and exciting. A Super Sale requires a Super Shopping Experience.

FINAL COMMENTS:
Amazon, your communication must be engaging. That includes a strategy that includes Pre, Per (during) and Post marketing. Give me something to get excited about (marketing). Give me something to talk about (social). Give me something to buy (sales)!

I am hopeful your post-mortem management meetings will reveal my sentiment and feedback. I fear the simple needle moving will count this as a success. However, as of 10am on July 15, 2015 – you haven’t “knocked it out of the park” (a baseball analogy a day after the MLB Allstar Game and two days after the MLB Homerun Derby).

As of today, I leave your store not impressed. And to set the record straight, I used both your Website and App because I couldn’t believe this was it. I was convinced I missed something. Just pretty celebration banners and landing page creative. Please get back to marketing basics and have your buyers merchandise it better with tools for self-discovery.

Best,

David Geipel
Member Since 2000 (maybe earlier)
PrimeMember & Rewards Cardholder

BTW – Happy 20th Anniversary Amazon. Very proud of you and I hope you get better with age!

Amazon.com PrimeDay