takes off but why jump onboard?
Launch Day for

Today marks a huge day for 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 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 (loved that feature) but over time, it should not send someone AWAY from the 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 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. 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 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, 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, 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… 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).