We Took Jet.com for a Test Flight

by Rimas Remeza August 12, 2015

How do you beat the big boys (cough, Amazon and Costco) at their own game? Jet.com aims to take them down by offering the best possible prices on everything from everyday items to big-ticket purchases.

To get you to the best bottom line, Jet flaunts ways to save at every step of the purchasing process. This includes finding the best initial price, then adding on more savings as you add items to your cart, all the way through checkout, where your payment type and flexibility with returns can save even more.

At the Gate

Jet says it doesn’t make any profit directly from the items it sells. Instead, it negotiates the best deals with its retailers and passes those prices directly to you without a markup. The upstart plans on making all of its revenue from membership fees. And though it will eventually cost you $49.99 per year to shop with Jet, you can take the site out for a test-flight thanks to the free three-month trial membership that begins with your first purchase. There’s no auto-enroll at the end of the trial period and no need to worry about canceling if you decide you don’t want a full-year membership.

A small sampling of items indicates Jet is true to its word. At the high end, an eye-dazzling Samsung 50-inch UHD TV was listed for $1,197 at Amazon, Costco, Newegg and Walmart, but I could add the TV to my cart on Jet for $1,099. At the other end of the spectrum, a 16-count pack of Charmin Ultra Soft Mega Rolls was going for $18.81 on Jet, while the best Amazon could offer was $20.64 for only 12 rolls. Overall, prices at Jet seemed consistently equal to — or lower than — the competition’s.

The one area in which Jet falls a bit short is inventory. I could pretty much find any item I searched for on Amazon, but more than once, I was left with just a handful of suggested substitutions for the products I was searching for on Jet. A support person informed me that Jet’s inventory changes all the time, and I should keep checking back. Jet’s prices probably make it worth the time to do so.

In-flight Amenities

Although the prices of its items are already competitive, Jet sweetens the deal when you add “Smart Items” to your cart. These are items that Jet says it can ship together and pass on the savings to you. To try it out, I put the $18.81 pack of Charmin into my cart and found a 100-ounce bottle of Tide priced at $16.31. When I placed the Tide in my cart, it added an extra discount of $6.96 to my order. So my total was only $28.16 and not the $35.12 it would have cost to purchase the items separately.

As you add more Smart Items, the discounts get even deeper. A $15.99 box of Swiffer dusters added to my cart gave me another $8.22 in discounts. Long story short, $35.93 is quite a good deal for three items that would have cost $51.11 if purchased individually.

There seem to be quite a few Smart Items to choose from in the everyday products, such as cleaning supplies, groceries and pet food. I was surprised to find a few Smart Items in the high-end categories as well. Adding a $1,139 LG LED TV gave me an additional $205.36 discount in my cart.

Jet even helps you save on items it doesn’t sell directly by partnering with 700-plus “Jet Anywhere” stores. Just click on the link to one of these stores from Jet, make a purchase from that store, send the receipt to Jet, and you’ll get “JetCash” that can be used toward your next Jet purchase.

So say you’re in the market for a Roku 3. You search for it on Jet. As it turns out, Jet doesn’t carry it, but it shows you a link to the Roku site. Clicking that link will earn you 3.5 percent back in JetCash for any purchases made at Roku. Pretty neat.

Download the Jet Android app to find low prices online and member savings on top of that!

Smooth Landing

Jet seems to take every opportunity to find you savings. Even at checkout, you’ll find a few more options to cut down the bill. As we’ve come to expect these days, there’s free shipping for orders over $35 (shipping is two days on basics and two to five days on everything else). But Jet takes you to new levels of savings as well, providing discounts for using a preferred payment type and for waiving your free return.

Paying with your Visa or MasterCard knocks an additional 0.25 percent off your total. Even better, use a debit card, and the savings increase to 1.5 percent.

Finally, you can even save a few dollars by choosing to waive your free return. Although this means you’ll be responsible for the shipping if you do return an item, you’ll save a bit on all the purchases you make where you’re not concerned with returns. (When was the last time you returned groceries in the mail anyway?) That’s some pretty decent scratch on bigger-ticket items (like $21.10 off of the LG TV).

Baggage Claim

So what do you do if you need customer service? Say, for example, if your new 55-inch TV arrives with 55,000 shards for a screen? You call a Jet Head.

The customer service number is not hidden away like it is on many of the other big e-commerce sites. Instead, you’ll find it on pretty much every page. And it actually works — and works quickly. You can get in touch with a helpful representative in just a few minutes.

My shattered TV elicited a truly sympathetic response from my Jet Head. The fact that I waived my free return did not matter in this case, and Jet set up a free FedEx pickup for the next day. And for my trouble, I got a $75 credit. Jet seems to have made customer service a priority, and it shows.

Return Trip

Jet has set off on the right flight path with many, many ways to save. A few growing pains include a somewhat limited inventory when compared with Amazon or Walmart and a lack of user reviews or ratings for products. The great deals and excellent customer service, however, make it easy to overlook these shortcomings. All in all, Jet passes its test flight with flying colors.

Jet.com: Sweet! Get a free one-year membership.