I talked about how Amazon has recently taken to requiring you to join Amazon Prime in order to purchase some of its products.
To me, that seemed like a bridge too far. And so I began researching alternatives to Amazon.
I found a worthy contender relatively quickly, as I had recalled a news article I had read recently about a site called Jet.
Jet is an online e-commerce site. They sell a whole galaxy of items, just like Amazon. And while they used to have a subscription model like Costco, now anyone is free to order. I had heard about Jet recently because Walmart had purchased it for something like a zillion dollars, in a bid to compete with Amazon.
As a practical matter, I was still needing to find my cheap source of Vega powder, so I logged on to Jet.
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Shopping cart gamification
I found my Vega powder and put it in my cart. It was at least as cheap as Costco.
And with Jet, if you spend $35, you get free shipping. That’s not a hard target to hit, and again, the minimum for free shipping provides a buffer against spending absentmindedly.
I explored further. Jet’s shopping cart has a neat trick to it: as you add items to the cart, the items that are in the cart actually go down in price (a few can go up). This is actually quite fun. I spent a little time gaming my shopping cart, trying to extract the biggest deal from the right combination of items. I managed to save a few percent this way. It was also the first time I’ve actually enjoyed the process of adding items to a shopping cart before.
In theory this is due to the real-time calculation of how much time/effort it takes to acquire and ship the particular items, but I think they do it because it’s fun.
Shipping as teleportation
So I placed the order for a range of items that I needed around the house, curious to explore the experience of ordering from Jet. Some items were heavy, some were expensive, some were food.
I placed my order at around 11AM.
And all but one of the items arrived at 3PM the next day. That’s 28 hours later.
I repeat, I didn’t need to sign up for a subscription service. Fast, free shipping, the holy grail, achieved without the help of Amazon.
Call me impressed.
It’s not perfect
Jet isn’t perfect. Their selection isn’t as universal as Amazon’s, and sometimes their prices aren’t that great. But is this such a bad thing? Do we really need to buy everything from one store?
Some will balk at its purchase by Walmart. I get that Walmart has historically been pretty terrible, in the way that it contributes to the destruction of our places and local economies.
But it might be time to update our biases. For example, many people continue to bash Microsoft for its monopolist practices, not realizing that it’s Apple that’s as big a monopoly these days, if not more so. (And in a strange turn of events, Microsoft is now also touted as the more visionary company.)
Walmart might be thought of in the same way. Walmart is now the biggest organic grocery purchaser in North America. That should matter to you. (And also, your preferred organic food company is probably owned by some multinational.)
I’m not saying that Walmart doesn’t still have a lot to answer for. But Amazon is the new Walmart. Couldn’t you easily see an update to the documentary called “Amazon: The High Cost of Low Price?”
Your choice and purchases matter
I’m not calling for a boycott on Amazon, and I’m not saying that I’ll never purchase from them ever again. That said, I’ve already made another Jet order (and it’s been delivered already!) since my first experience last week, so I’m definitely diverting some spending to Jet.
The point is that, as a purchaser, your choices matter. You could put your lot in with a company that offers too-good-to-be-true deals, only to find one day that you can’t easily extract yourself from the deal.
But we all have the ability to choose what companies have power over us, by voting with our money. By giving competition to the giant companies such as Amazon, we force them not to be complacent. We force them to innovate. We may not be able to force them into letting us purchase things without a subscription, but we can take away their power.
I want all of us to be moved by more than just convenience, more than just cheap prices. You have more power to decide what companies do than you might think. Use it.
But enough about me. Have you ever used Jet or another Amazon competitor? What did you think?