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).

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Apple Watch is the new Swatch Watch

The Apple Watch

If you’re like me, you’ve been following #Apple since they announced the Apple Watch last fall. The common sentiment is simple: sure looks cool.

When I talk to friends and acquaintances in various circles, I also hear the following comment about the shiny iWatch: I don’t know… And that is anchored by perception based on price. If you have money burning in your pocket, the answer is – I’ve gotta have one. But for the average person these days, they still need to be convinced.

BUT the real question Apple cares about: do you want one?

Swatch vs Apple Watch
Swatch (1985 McGregor Watch) versus the Apple Watch (2015 version)

What I’ve realized is that Apple has done something no other company has done in the accessory industry with a watch since the mid-80s. Yes, I cannot recall a time since 1985 when one watch captured the attention of the masses where they considered the question: do I want one? And that happened to me too. While a youth, I had to answer that question when confornted with the Swatch brand. The watch I wanted was the McGregor Swatch. It was colorful, represented a diverse watch that had swiss movement. Ok, it was nothing special when you broke it down because it was a lot of plastic. But the STYLE spoke for itself. I could now make a BOLD statement with my watch. It didn’t require a close up look, but from a distance, others knew I had the hottest watch you could get – a Swatch.

Well, Apple hopes to convince you too that their new watch it the one you have to get.

Besides the fashion statement an Apple Watch makes with the exchangeable watch bands (yes, more are planned) it’s more about being Swiss than you think. It aims to be the SWISS ARMY KNIFE of watches. So it actually shares a cool aspect the Swatch shares – it’s swiss functionally by design.

The main difference here is WHAT you can do with your watch. It’s about style and function together. Something Apple really prides itself with in their design planning stages.

Yet I argue that one major issue remains for Apple and the entire smart watch category. Consumers are comfortable looking at their phones for the time. Period.

You get a text… you see the time.

Get an email… there’s the time.

Facebook or Twitter chiming away… you know the time.

So back to the main question: why get an Apple Watch? I would argue it’s the Beats argument. They produce a good sound with a look that’s unquestionably Beats. So for the Apple watch, it’s because they customize your watch making it stylish, cool & productive and well, you know you want one.

The challenge remains at the price point. If you’ve ever spent more than $200 for a watch, you will already be in the Apple target market. The hope for Apple is to introduce customers who never spent that much for a watch to reach deep down and spend for the money for their “most personal device yet.”

For me, I will wait. I’ve learned that Apple makes a great intro product but once they nail it, they really NAIL IT with their second version. So I hope that’s sooner than later. Till then, I may be asking Apple Watch users for the time – just to see it in action.

OS X Yosemite – Preparing to upgrade my Macbook OS

Well, I decided it was time to get ready for the latest Apple MAC OS 10.10. I’ve been running a variety of Apple operating systems since I first got my Macbook Pro in 2008. Of course, that system is still working great, but won’t be able to upgrade from the current version: 10.9 (OSX Mavericks). So that machines can’t be updated this time around, but my Macbook Air can. So my preparation begins.
OS X 10.10 Yosemite My current Macbook Air has a 256GB SSD hard drive. It’s not the largest that will fit in this machine yet I don’t want to open it up to replace a HD. My issue is that it is full. I need space! Once I’m done calculating my drive space: music, photos, videos, work documents, songs, etc I am out of room. I literally get the System Full message weekly. Not good for my system either. So it’s time to DELETE.

As I prepare for OS X Yosemite, I realize I will need to clear out about 10GB of space. That is conservative because previous upgrades were slightly larger. It isn’t as easy as hitting delete either, so I will begin today to make room for the new features, bells & whistles I must not be able to live without. Here’s some quick things that helped me. Hope they help those too in a precarious situation: keep or delete.

DEVELOPER FOLDER
First, I begin with a look at the folders I have on my system. This time around, I realized that I had the DEVELOPER folder for Xcode still installed. No longer needing it, I deleted it right away. Net result: 1.3GB

iTUNES
Next, I ran one of my favorite tools: Gemini. It scans your HD looking for duplicated. Low and behold, I found some bible teaching albums in iTunes that I also had backed up on my drive. Went into iTunes and deleted the folders individually. Result: 3GB

Note: if you add an album from another folder, it will become a duplicate files as iTunes contains the new tracks. You can also safely delete the original tracks as well once iTunes adds them.

BACKUPS
Another tool I use to visualize my drive is OmniDiskSweeper. I used to use a more visual tool, but this seems to give me the best access to these larger files and folders. You can find it in the App Store.

I only recently realized that a complete backup of your i-devices can be really large folders. I mean really large. Deleting my iPad backup and I gain 8GB. Tempting…

If you use cloud-backups such as Dropbox or OneDrive, you may think you’ve moved folders or files from your computer to the cloud but often times you will have them on your HD plus in the cloud. You’ll have to stop the sync between them and remove the folder from your computer to lose the duplicate nature of those folders. Use with caution. My gain was 500MB

Do I need to keep deleting? Perhaps I will have to clean up my computer even further than I have today. One tool I love is CleanMyMac 2.0 – definitely worth the investment. It finds all sorts of goodies like language files (Russian, Arabic, Spanish, etc) that I don’t need – so hit scan and clean and they are gone. This didn’t help me this time around

Finally, you can use ONYX for a squeaky clean setup prior to the upgrade. This eliminates caches, history folders, user preferences and all sorts of system clutter. Use with caution as you can easily be overly aggressive with this tool. The other tool they make is called Maintenance and is highly recommended as well. This would be a finishing touch before you hit UPDATE.

YOSEMITE REQUIREMENTS:

Yosemite Apple Macbook & iMacAs of this post, there are no official space requirements posted by Apple for the final release version of Yosemite OSX. If you’ve upgraded your OSX before through the App Store, you may remember the space needed for Mavericks was close to 11-13GB. The clean install of Mavericks was 11GB. The previous version required 16GB. So we are hopeful this one will be below 10 but I won’t hold my breath.

Comparison: If you are a Windows user, version 7 required 20GB and Windows 8 increased to approx. 24GB. So be grateful your requirements with a Mac is only 10ish GBs.

Compatible Macs able to upgrade to Yosemite:

  • iMac (Mid-2007 or later)
  • MacBook (13-inch Aluminum, Late 2008), (13-inch, Early 2009 or later)
  • MacBook Pro / MBP (13-inch, Mid-2009 or later), (15-inch, Mid/Late 2007 or later), (17-inch, Late 2007 or later)
  • MacBook Air / MBA (Late 2008 or later)
  • Mac Mini (Early 2009 or later)
  • Mac Pro (Early 2008 or later)
  • Xserve (Early 2009)

Basic Yosemite Requirements:
Mac needs at least 2GB of RAM, 8GB of available storage and at least OS X 10.6.8 already installed.

CONCLUSION:
If you’re really lazy, you could dump nonessential folders onto an external HD and then move them back when your upgrade is complete.

Important: Perform a Time Machine backup once your machine is clean. Then and only then proceed to upgrading your OS X.

Always be cautious deleting & cleaning up your machine. And good luck with the OS X (10.10) Yosemite upgrade!

UPDATE: The new Yosemite is really slick. It took me about 20 minutes to update my 2011 & 2008 machine. Yes, my old late 2008 Macbook Pro was available for the update for free. AWESOME.

What I noticed when I went to download was the warning tell me what the actual space requirements were for Yosemite. Drum Roll….

Yosemite OS X 10.10 Requirements

Just 4.81 GB required for this upgrade. Loving Apple today. Very slick guys. Loving Yosemite and all it has to offer. At some point I will see what the actual effect of the upgrade was on space but for now, it’s great. Loving the integration and once iOS 8.1 is released, complete tie-in features will be available.

The Day Before…

It will happens in exactly 24 Hours

Just 24 hours from now, you'll learn why you need the new iPhone and other cool Apple stuff.
Just 24 hours from now, you’ll learn why you need the new iPhone and other cool Apple stuff.

I love mobile technology and the promise it holds: to give us freedom and ultimately mobility. To be able to do what I need to do at my computer and yet so much more – because of the design, shape and ways it can be used (consumed). In order to help us get closer to the full potential, equipment and software must be design with these goals in mind. The OS and Device equation must be embraced together in order to achieve maximum utility.

Last August, I posted a sarcastic Blackberry opinion about their latest device. Yes, the Blackberry was one of my favorite phones of all times. For me, it did four things really well: made reliable calls, texts, chat and of course, email. However, innovation lags when it came to their App Store and allowing others to develop on their platform. This severely hindered their efforts as they also didn’t nail down the touch phenomena. They held the keyboard (and ability to type) higher than the other benefits of touch. So it lagged and slowly died to devices like the iPhone (the only other true Equipment+OS company) and then to Android. Sure enterprise users moved to Apple once they got their act together with enterprise connections and management. However, in the end, the consumer won. Their preference won.

Deja Vu – Another iPhone is Coming

So on the eve of the new iPhone 6 release, I find my comments about last year’s Blackberry ironic.

> Bigger, Better
> Sharp & Vibrant (larger screen)
> Light & Durable

Apple knows a bigger screen will do well and that’s what they will finally deliver. They didn’t break their formula of running two years with each model – think 3 & 3G, 4 & 4S, 5 & 5S. See my point? We will predictably get an iPhone 6 tomorrow and next year, a 6X (six-something-or-other). Are they planning to keep the current size available in a new model? Will they offer two or three sizes? Will the phablet concept (phone-mini-tablet) become a new category for them like the iPad “mini”? Does it really matter?

Consumers are always looking for the newer, faster, better (bigger if better, thinner if still durable, etc)… it’s how we are wired. So will tomorrow’s iPhone (9/9/14) be a success for Apple? Only if consumers see it. So, yes, of course. Will we want more on 9/10/14? Yup.

~Dave Geipel

Cut the Cord.

I did it. I finally did the inevitable. Some say it couldn’t be done. Well, it can and you should consider doing the same. Get out your scissors and cut the proverbial cord. Why cut the cord? Because it can lead to better service for everyone and there are some other benefits you’ll discover. It’s also easier than you think.

Cut the Cord

I recently decided to take the challenge and “cut the cord” to my cable television. Yes, I figuratively “cut” my cable TV cord by canceling the TV portion of my bill. I am sorry Comcast, but my family has the tendency of turning on worthless programming to have some noise on in the background (most times). While I will miss some time-wasting shows like Gold Rush (will they ever find a massive gold reserve in the jungle), the Great American Food Cart Race (Tyler, I will have to catch you on reruns) and even Storage Wars (Barry will be ok without me) – what I hope to regain is both freed up time and better choices.

That’s a funny word – choice. It’s really freedom we desire that gives us the ability to choose. We can choose what stores we’d like to shop both locally and online, the choice of water we drink in bottles or special purified water in our refrigerator all the way to the place we worship which I am grateful for as an American. We love our freedoms in the US. However, as someone who knows a little bit about the television and entertainment space, I have to say that freedom isn’t available as we would desire when it comes to true content availability.

Have you ever wondered why you have to pay extra to get a few channels you want to watch on TV? Let’s use ESPN for example. It’s never included in a basic cable television package. While the main channel may be available in the next upgrade, the real package we want is the 3rd or 4th upgrade. Notice how I use the word upgrade in my description. That’s what the entire pricing model is based on – getting you in then upgrading you to the “proper package” as if they are doing us a favor.

What we really want is more inline with what we need – simple choices. We “really don’t need” the other 20 junk, filler channels that complete the package we have to purchase to get the 2-3 channels we want to watch. You have a HDTV set, “that’s the next tier we offer” and the classic line: “did we mention you need to rent our set-top box to receive the signal we send to your home?” Oh you want to record your shows? Well, that’s the watch-me-now package and that’s another upgrade and equipment fee too. We quickly price ourselves up and out of our desired budget because if we are not careful. And that’s the problem. When it comes to cable tv, they maximize your spend till it’s too difficult for you to pull back. No one wants to “downgrade” or lose something the channels they want to watch, when they want to watch it. Everyone knows it’s a trap. And as a customer, you, me, we… have all fallen victim to their ways.

What would be ideal (in a perfect world) is more like an iTunes model. Pay a flat price to get access to programming. In some ways, Netflix is a great base package to consider. What is missing are new releases, current seasons, and the “fake out” they put you through when shows go missing. It’s happened several times to me as a customer and each time I’ve called to explain that they are abusive with their “customer service” as they yank programming without notice. They still don’t get it. Time Warner customers understand the power of yanking off programs you pay for and expect to receive. However, the content providers get greedy wanting greater fees. The service provider wants lower fees and greater selection. The one forgotten in their negotiations – the customer.

The customer loses. Over and over again, we are losing when it comes to proper television service. We forget when we have cable tv that we pay for the service – to watch a channel we subscribe to in our package. Then we have to sit through commercials. It’s a double-dip. For Time Warner customers, this last time around, CBS wanted a transmission fee to carry their channels. Time Warner wanted to keep the ability to insert commercials they, the cable provider, sells into their channels. The broadcaster or station still sells their own ads direct too. The money is spread across multiple sources of revenue for all parties. Yet, as the customer, we never get true selection and convenience for the price we pay to get quality service.

Cable TV started in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania as a gloried antenna – pull in clear signal for local customers who couldn’t access it without a powerful antenna they couldn’t locate on their home. The name cable tv is named from the cable that ran from the main antenna the provider operated and run into customers’ homes. Don’t believe me? Look up CATV. It’s called “Community Access Television” or “Community Antenna Television” because it provided clear broadcast signal within a local community. Today, they’ve morphed from just broadcast television into behemoth companies selling cable tv, movies on-demand, phone, internet, home security and phone service. Any way they can maximize their investment in the “cable” or fiber they run to your home or through their relationship with you as their customer. It’s a good model.

The problem they face is customer backlash if we were to stand up against their price and packaging practices. They are not the only one to blame for the mess. It’s also the greed flowing through Hollywood. They own the content and will try any means to make more off their investments. This may mean selling rights of certain properties to a network, service provider or even their own services that sell it direct to customer.

There are some trying to fix this imbalance. We know from basic economics of supply and demand that they all can only survive as long as customers put up with their system. It’s really an ecosystem since no one has been successful to break it. Steve Jobs was determined to break it as he did with music with iTunes. What do we do? We can wait around for Google, Apple, Aerio, Netflix and others to do it for us, but until we unite against the system, it won’t change.

So I’ve taken my step to add to those who’ve cut the cord. I am tired of losing time to the worthless channels that compete for my eyes and ears. I miss many quality channels that gave me relevant and timely news, weather and sports. I will miss some shows I looked forward to watching each week. But I am slowly replacing it with more studying, reading and writing. Our family has more time together instead of being sucked into the television. I’ve kept our internet, antennae, Netflix and Redbox for now and will wait for Cable and Content providers to reinvent themselves because of customers like me who said enough is enough.

New phone, old features. Someone must be happy…

Blackberry - Q10 SmartphoneBlackberry - Q10 New Smartphone WhiteBigger, Better Keyboard
with instant-action button

Sharp & Vibrant

with a large 3″ screen

Light & Durable

for ultimate performance

BORING…

This was the commercial I caught on TV this week. And I have to say that I thought something was wrong. You too may think at first glance this is a really old blog post too. Nope. it’s 2013 and it’s a Blackberry with another round of polish. They call it the BB Q10 and perhaps you too saw the ad and already went to the store to buy one. Unfortunately, BB product development and marketing is not working. They have us all caught in a time warp.

It’s been a really long time since I’ve seen a Blackberry ad on TV. While I always loved their leadership in the smartphone space, to see something new from BB was interesting. But that’s not a “good” interesting reaction.

It was more like:
WHY would you (BB) waste what money your company still has after losing marketshare quarter after quarter and suffering from lagging sales to promote another device that is nothing more than a remake of a 5-year-old device. All you can really say is that you have something new… because it is faster, brighter, larger screen and has a better keyboard?

Every ad we see on TV these days is about touch… awesome cameras… superb HD-quality screens… and innovative features that support why they are called “smart” in the first place.

I hate saying this, but the company’s new Q10 also sounds like a vitamin. Something I take each night before bed – CoQ10.

I have officially put the last nail in the coffin on BB. I do not see how they can reclaim any remaining pieces left by Apple, Google (Samsung and Motorola) and Microsoft (Nokia Window phones).

So if you’re only looking for a great keyboard and just a few relevant features like Facebook and Twitter, than a BB may *still* be for you. And you may be elated to see a new remake of your favorite form-factor. For the rest of us, we will continue to wait and be wooed by true innovators pushing the limits in mobile tech. No pressure…

Downton Abbey, the Brady Bunch and the Jetsons

Three shows (Downton Abbey, the Brady Bunch and Jetsons) each share a common theme: an interesting housemaid helping around the home.

Ok, so I am not making a full set of direct comparisons between the three, but what first got me thinking about this was how much Alice (the housemaid) on the Brady Bunch and O’Brien (Called Miss O’Brien too on Downton Abbey) looked alike. The more I thought about the two, the more comparisons I started making about their role in each family and how it reflected the time period. What I concluded was that the period or time difference wouldn’t change either character. One is conniving, deceptive and manipulative while the other is funny, quirky and full of heart.

Downton Abbey's Miss O'Brien and the Brady Bunch's Alice
Miss O’Brien from Downton Abbey looks like Alice from the Brady Bunch

Both Downton Abbey and the Brady Bunch are very popular shows that either have or had a strong following. But the differences between each family (and their helpers) are almost opposites.So what would that look like in today’s culture?

I guess the next evolution or change is moving away from people to technology and robots. Perhaps Rosie from the Jetsons will be a reality. Think of a Siri that works and can perform real tasks in the home. Or she or he (Siri) acts like Carson from Downton and tells someone else to do this or that command. Like everything else, we can’t stop the move toward robotics and artificial intelligence. Why not have a household helper who doesn’t talk back, gets the job done right the first time and doesn’t ask for a raise – only needs basic maintenance. And if you don’t like it, no worries. Next year, you can get a new one with more features for a lower price. Or perhaps a new personality you can download or voice (like your GPS or Siri voice).

Again, this quick thought originated watching the sneaky O’Brien (Sarah O’Brien) and her discussing how she is a servant and how “they pay us to do as we’re told. That’s all.” Then several months later seeing Alice (Alice Nelson) in action in the Brady Bunch while watching it with my kids and how Alice didn’t complain, had a smile on her face most times and real care and concern. Here was someone who cared not for one person, but the entire family. It made me think how in today’s world, the “old ways” from just fifty years ago, let alone one hundred years ago and the blend of technology really does change people and the personalities they present. Both can do a great job (minus the talking back or side comments) if they apply themselves. A work ethic makes all the difference.

I am glad that people are still people. There are different varieties, some more pleasant than others. And grateful that some of them are only ones that “play one on tv.” Back to my kids. I really am grateful they are learning to
do a good job in everything they do. Some small attitude changes here and there and a strong work ethic will pay them dividends. Just watch out for Rosie, she’s already becoming reality.

Now if we can just get those flying cars in the Jetsons or even the Hover Board (floating skateboards) from Back to the Future… I am sure Google or Apple are already working on it.

iTunes 11 – Updated Design & Commerce… but missing the Steve Job’s touch.

So I am an Apple fan. Took me a really long time to be convinced it was superior to others. The iPod started it and the iPhone finished it – both putting Apple on the map for Music and Mobile convergence and domination.

One of their secret weapons in their business is not just the device, but also the software. Unbeknownst to most, iTunes is likely to be the most profitable digital commerce store in the world. They currently generate something like $8 Billion in revenue from iTunes and are on track to generate $13 Billion next year.

Just this past week, Facebook announced they are going to sell iTunes Gift Cards off their platform – just to get a piece of that business.

So when Apple released their new update today, everyone judged it based on look and feel. Some noted that it’s darker. Bolder. Love how it color matches my album in the details view for the album. Yet it also seems to miss some of those special Steve Job touches. It appears they may have focused on key areas like how they we monetize iTunes in new ways… increase per-subscriber/customer revenue… sell more digital goods?

I think we can begin to see it in our playlists (store results showing us what we don’t have or own)… and other presentation techniques users are familiar with like coverflow within the store (like the App Store on the iPhone has today). But it’s still missing something. That will vary a little for each person, but nothing truely special about it. It just didn’t get my reaction when I went from Windows Media Player to using Zune and their store and player 4-5 years ago. Zune really made an impression. iTunes 11 – seems safe. Perhaps that’s how we can describe Apple from now on… safe!

I do have to say it looks more like my iPhone than the old iTunes. I am just left to wonder – what would Steve Jobs have done differently? I sure hope they keep asking those questions or I fear these small nuances that made Apple so special are not left out in an attempt to beat the old-apple.

Regardless, the new iTunes 11 pushes Apple forward. The question that remains is where it’s going. Time will tell where Tim Cook and the rest of the Apple team want to take us and if we’re all willing to follow.

Some new pictures of the look, feel and features.

Welcome to iTunes 11 by Apple.
New Album view in iTunes 11. Notice how it matches the main color of the album? Really Cool.
New iTunes 11 store – likely to drive new revenue as they tweak the store and optimize the results for each person.
iTunes 11 – new design and look and feel.