Jet.com Opens To The Public Today, Discounts More If You Buy More Stuff And Waive Returns

launchIt’s easy to compare Jet, an e-commerce site that held its virtual grand opening today, to Amazon. The startup wants to be compared to and compete with Amazon: its founder’s last venture, Quidsi, sold household goods through the sites diapers.com, soap.com, and wag.com, and ended up acquired by Amazon.

The expensive part of an e-commerce business is purchasing and storing the actual items that you plan to sell, and Jet is getting around that by using “partner” retailers all over the country for many items. Imagine if Amazon had started up with its Marketplace in place: it would have been able to expand its inventory without investing money in buildings or in inventory.

benchmarkComparisons to Amazon are inevitable, and even the site’s prices know this: all prices are benchmarked against the Everything Store’s price for the same item, with Jet’s price shown as a discounted version of Amazon’s.

One of Jet’s secrets is that they’ll be using a fancy version of drop shipping, which they’re calling “concierge” service. You might see something for sale on the site at a competitive price. The Wall Street Journal reports that’s because if you order certain items, Jet will actually be ordering them for you from other sites instead of shipping them out of their own inventory or their partners’.

Stranger still, the concierges at Jet may, when possible, use affiliate links that earn them a small percentage of the purchase price back. It’s as if they were using eBates while shopping for the entire country. Customers can also use these affiliate links themselves, shopping on other sites and earning “Jet cash” that can be used on the site.

Have you tried Jet yet? Membership in the site costs $50 per year, but the first three months are free. They apparently really, really want to take as much business as possible away from Amazon. If you want to share your experiences, whether they’re good, bad, or boring and ordinary, you know where to find us.

Jet.com Uses Clever Tactic to Save Money [Wall Street Journal]