The Digital Shopper Showdown: Amazon Versus Jet.com

From Forbes on April 14, 2016:

When we first addressed Jet.com, the start-up had just launched with many speculating that this site, with its complex pricing algorithms, vast assortment, and low-threshold free shipping, could give Jeff Bezos & Co. over at Amazon a run for their money. Fast forward a few quarters (and past the crucial holiday season), Jet.com has dropped its membership model and is still spending media mega-bucks to convert shopper clicks away from competitors. For this analysis, we’ll take a look at the progress Jet.com has made with consumers at the seven month mark and whether or not Amazon.com should be worried.

Jet.com’s progress so far. At Prosper Insights & Analytics, we’ve been tracking consumer awareness of Jet.com in our monthly survey of more than 7,000 U.S. adults 18+. Back in August, more than eight out of ten Americans (81.4%) hadn’t yet heard of the new retail website, and fewer than one in ten (7.7%) has visited or made a purchase. While the latter percentage seems relatively minor, consider that 7.7% equates to more than 18 million shoppers – not an insignificant number of wallets from that perspective. The most recent reading from our March survey indicates that figure has now swelled to 35 million shoppers, or 14.3% who have visited or made a purchase from Jet.com, an 85% increase over our initial August 2015 findings. Currently, about a third of consumers (31.2%) also say they’ve heard of Jet.com but have not visited the website, while more than half (54.5%) still have no awareness of Jet.com.

Here’s what Millennial shoppers have to say. Segmenting our Jet.com data by generation reveals even more interesting insights. Nearly one in five (19.4%) Millennials admits to visiting or making a purchase from the Jet.com website – higher than older generations, including Gen X-ers (14.5%) and Boomers (11.6%). With the Millennial generation arguably positioned as one of the most covetable groups of shoppers in terms of spending potential, this seems like great news for the Jet.com team. However, consider this:Millennial’s interest in Jet.com appears to be growing at a much slower pace compared to their older counterparts. From August 2015 to March 2016, Jet.com realized an increase of 35% among Millennials who visited or made a purchase from their website. In comparison, Gen X shoppers rose almost 70% while Boomer interest in the site nearly quadrupled. With a larger number of Millennials showing interest in Jet.com from the get-go, it’s natural to assume that the growth rate wouldn’t be quite as high as Gen X and Boomer shoppers. However, it stands to reason at this stage in the game – following the holiday season and less than a year after the Jet.com launch – growth among Millennials perhaps shouldn’t be slowing quite so quickly. So what might be keeping these younger shoppers from boarding Jet.com? Enter Amazon.

Visited Or Made A Purchase On Jet.com

Not ready for [Amazon] Prime time? It doesn’t appear that arrival of Jet.com on the retail scene discouraged young shoppers from patronizing Amazon during the latter half of 2015. During the third and fourth quarters of last year, Millennials’ propensity to shop Amazon continued to rise, culminating in a record high of 71.2% who shopped there during the October-November-December period. And, these youngsters seem to enjoy the experience; since early 2014, this generation has regularly rated Amazon with higher-than-average Net Promoter Scores*. These positive thoughts are also corroborated by our recent analysis of Prosper’s Customer Service Champions by generation. While L.L.Bean won the overall title, Millennials (as well as Gen X-ers) named Amazon as their top pick for service excellence.

And let’s not forget about Amazon Prime. From its humble beginnings as a free shipping vehicle, Prime membership services have expanded to include media streaming, photo storage, and an eBook lending library – a perfect package for the cable cord-cutting, online shopping, digital enthusiasts who comprise the youngest adult generation. According to our intel, more than two in five Millennials (42.3%) have access to Prime, a figure that has grown 23.1% compared to August 2015, aka the early days of Jet.com. This growth rate is second only to the Boomer generation (+25.8%), so it appears that while Jet.com has been attempting a take-off, Amazon has continued running like the big-freight-train-that-could.

Have An Amazon Prime Membership

With Amazon actively courting shoppers with Prime benefits, low prices, stellar service, and innovative, exclusive products (read: Dash Buttons, Echo), it appears that the online powerhouse would have to make a major misstep in order for Jet.com to make significant inroads with shoppers. Remember, though, that every retailer has to begin somewhere – once upon a time, Amazon was just a bookseller.

Pam Goodfellow is Principal Analyst/Consumer Insights Director for Prosper Insights & Analytics™ and editor of the monthly Consumer Snapshot.

*Net Promoter, NPS and Net Promoter Score are trademarks of Satmetrix Systems, Inc., Bain & Company, and Fred Reichheld

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