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When online shopping club launched in July, the retailer’s CEO said he aspired to have 15 million customers spending $20 billion by 2020.

From the looks of the website, the prices and the shopping experience, has a lot of work to do in order to get anywhere close to achieving that goal.

Retailing Today decided to go shopping on to see how the startup compares to, and other online retailers. We ordered a variety of items, some everyday household staples such as plastic sandwich bags, toothpaste and dog food, to others not-so-ordinary: a French cookbook and a beer koozie.

Now this is a small representation of shopping at and not at all a comprehensive analysis of its business model. But the exercise provided some insight into how measures up against the big retailers online -- especially when compared to the high standards set by

Shopping experience: Shopping on is not for the impatient. The search tool isn’t very accurate. Type in “The Sweet Life in Paris,” the title of a relatively new book by a famous chef, and may find it, or it may not. If it does find the book as being available for order, it doesn’t show the publication date, or other important information such as item weight, ISBN number, hardback or paperback options, etc.

Let’s say you want to order some organic canned dog food.’s offering of brands is limited. And the search results for the ones it does sell do not show the size of the can (is it 13 ounces? 15 ounces? Or the 3-ounce sample size?). If you want to add any item to your shopping cart, the information page is hard to read, presented in a very small font, a deficiency the seasoned e-commerce executives who founded shouldn’t tolerate.

There are other missing and awkward features, too, such as large amounts of white space on the product landing pages, zero shipping information and no functionality for people to write reviews (basic functionality found on virtually e-commerce sites). Perhaps the Jet website is optimized for mobile, but that makes the experience for those shopping on a laptop less than optimal.

You get the feeling when you are shopping this website that it’s something that was thrown together quickly, by a bunch of retail newbies, and isn’t very credible. That’s not good for Jet.

Price: claims that its prices beat Walmart and Amazon. But whether that’s true is up for debate. Since launched, much has been written about how confusing Jet’s pricing structure is. The confusion comes from Jet not showing the actual price it is offering the product for and instead only displaying the amount of the discount. It’s nearly impossible to determine what price you are paying until checkout. That could get really annoying fast for shoppers.

Also, the prices for the items we ordered were not lower than One cool feature on is that it shows a link where you can compare their price against Amazon’s price in real time, but that link always showed that Amazon’s price was actually cheaper.

And while Retailing Today scored a free membership with Jet, there is typically a $49 annual membership fee to get access to those allegedly lower prices. At Amazon, you pay $99 for its Prime program, which comes with free two-day shipping on many items. Shipping was free for this Jet order. But the shipping costs would have been free on this order anyway because Amazon offers free shipping on many purchases over $35 to non-Prime shoppers. At Walmart, there is no such membership fee and shipping is also free on orders over $35.

Speed: The checkout process at Jet was quick and easy. And Jet does send you a confirmation email minutes after an order is placed. But that’s where the speediness ended. The items we ordered showed up between five and 17 days later. Jet did not properly manage customer expectations by sending email updates as to what the problem was with delivery. The beer koozie showed up in a padded envelope. The book was delivered in a huge box with no packing materials and it was damaged. The box of plastic bags looked like it had been run over by a car. The dog food bag was pierced with two holes.

In an era in which Amazon has trained shoppers to expect things to arrive in great shape within hours, Jet’s delivery system disappointed.

The verdict: Amazon remains the one to beat when it comes to shopping experience, price and speed. Walmart is a formidable competitor too. As for Jet, it’s to be expected that the company’s launch would be a little bumpy, but there are a lot of kinks to work out if Jet CEO Marc Lore intends to reach his goal of $20 billion by 2020.

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