Walmart-owned e-commerce platform Jet.com is looking to stand up tall against stiff competition in the online retail world.
As part of its larger rebrand, Jet has launched a new fashion and beauty experience aimed at giving customers a more focused look at apparel than they might receive at other multi-brand e-commerce platforms.
Jet will now offer customers a rotating curated collection of trends, with carefully chosen pieces from a variety of brands inspired by a particular theme. For instance, one of the first collections available is called For the Record and features clothes from Versace, Guess, Dr. Marten’s and more inspired by the grungy, punky aesthetic of the ’90s indie music scene. Another section contains editors’ picks of striking pieces all in the color red from brands like Michael Kors and Calvin Klein.
Jet’s curated approach to fashion e-commerce is in stark contrast to its main competitor, Amazon. While Amazon has worked at making discovery an essential part of its operations, the site has not built many strong relationships with brands. Fashion brands are hesitant to sell on Amazon, largely due to having little input on how Amazon presents and prices their products and the lack of data provided to partnering brands on how their products are performing.
One major advantage Jet has over Amazon is the willingness for brands to work with Jet in a more direct way. Luxury brands such as Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent sell on Jet’s platform, but not Amazon’s. Jet is leaning into this advantage. As part of its relaunch, the retailer will begin working with brands to create unique online curations of products. Nike will be the first major partnership of this type, launching a fully branded section of the Jet online store in October.
Notably, Nike became a first-party partner with Amazon last year. But six months after the partnership started, Nike’s performance on Amazon was dismal. This was attributed in part to Amazon’s resistance to giving its brand partners any sort of control over how their products are marketed or sold on the site.
These brands are usually not willing to work with Amazon beyond just selling on their platform, if that. Jet is relying on the partnerships it can build between brands and the tight focus on its specific audience to set itself apart from Amazon in the world of online fashion retail
This move is part of Jet’s larger strategy to differentiate itself from Amazon. Where its competitor seeks to be everything to everyone, Jet has focused on a specific type of consumer: young, hip and metropolitan.
“Specializing in a niche audience or product segment and outperforming the online giants is a smart strategy for Jet.com. However, outperforming Amazon, even in a narrow segment, is a daunting endeavor,” said David Naumann, vp of marketing at BRP Consulting.
Daunting as it may be, the narrowed focus has allowed Jet to create something with more personality and more character than its competitors. This approach allows the brand to simplify the path to purchase for consumers by removing the need to sort through pages and pages of products and allowing them see entire outfits and complementary pieces in one place.
This approach has manifested itself in a focus on the editorial side of online retail. Jet does not want customers to feel lost at sea, swimming through an ocean of brands and options. Instead, the retailer is hoping to make the process of discovering new brands easier and more manageable.
“We want to bring back the allure of discovering brands and products, even online,” Jet’s chief customer officer David Echegoyen told Glossy earlier this year. “On marketplaces like ours, brands so often get lost in the shuffle. So Jet is instead building a house of brands by approaching customers with richer storytelling and creating different ways of connecting with brands that’s harder to find today.”
For Jet, trying to compete with Amazon at its own game is a fool’s errand. Amazon has far too much of an advantage for Jet to overcome it as a general online retailer of choice. But Jet is not trying to compete with Amazon on its own terms.
“Most customers think of Amazon as the first place to start their product search, and changing these entrenched habits is very difficult,” Naumann said. “Awareness is the biggest challenge, as Jet.com is not top of mind for consumers. It will take a significant investment in advertising and promotions to increase the awareness of Jet.com. Once they gain traction on awareness, they need to impress shoppers with a personalized and frictionless shopping experience so they are inspired to buy on Jet.com instead of Amazon.”