Let Amazon be an endless aisle of all things to all people, Jet.com is sharpening its focus by prioritizing five categories in the fall including fashion, home, grocery, beauty and technology.
“We want to get to a place where we’re known for three things: unique assortments, tailored experiences and personal service,” said David Echegoyen, chief customer officer. “You’ll see we’re serious about this. We’re going to be putting our money where our mouth is with a full media plan that will kick in in the fall.”
“What we learned over the last 18 months is where Jet resonates,” said Simon Belsham, who became president of Jet.com in late March. “The core Jet customer has a younger psychographic and that complements Walmart’s strengths. We’re taking the business to be very urban-focused.
“Walmart has a very strong positioning,” Belsham added. “We already have a marketplace with sellers. I think we’re excited that over the next few months we’ll evolve that for our customer.”
Belsham who previously led the online grocery transformation of Tesco, the U.K.’s top grocery and general merchandise retailer, pointed to Jet.com’s Apple store, which offers the full range of Mac computers including the MacBook Pro, MacBook, MacBook Air and iMac. “We created an Apple store on Jet,” he said. “People can trust Jet.com. We’re one of the few online retailers to sell the full lineup Macs. It’s the idea of having unique products. We’ll have more brands with unique opportunities.”
“We’ll bring more high-end premium brands and local shops such as The Meatball Shop, Peter Luger, Van Leeuwen Ice Cream and Big Gay Ice Cream. We want to bring a curated viewpoint and are adding some fun brands onto the site. Fall will see a more prevalent influence of Denise Incandela,” Echegoyen said, referring to the former Ralph Lauren executive who was hired last fall as head of fashion at Walmart U.S. e-commerce.
Jet.com will be highlighting products around new, local, better and best when curating assortments and telling brand stories.
The site’s prestige beauty assortment has the message, “Go ahead, get fancy. Premium products to complete your look.” “A lot of brands want to sell [Jet] prestige beauty,” Echegoyen said. “It’s been great since its inception and a lot of it is directly to us. We treat those brands with respect.”
With products from Bobbi Brown, Guerlain, La Prairie, MAC, Nars and Laura Mercier, Jet.com hopes to hook beauty customers and convert them to buyers of other products from Jet. “Even premium customers, don’t buy everything premium,” Echegoyen said. “A retailer that offers prestige beauty items…what If we could provide you all of those and other things [staples] every week.”
A consumer has a different mind-set when shopping for beauty products than buying groceries. “The site allows for experiences to be binary,” Echegoyen said. “Jet is trying to create experiences that are mission-based. Understanding the customer’s mind-set is key. We have customers willing to test and tell us. We do labs twice a week.”
Jet has a history of testing and learning. Jet last spring partnered with Rachel Shechtman’s Story retail storefront, with merchandise from the web site rotating through the 2,000-square-foot space. Jet is testing Latch, a smart access system in 1,000-plus Manhattan buildings. “We’re thinking about scheduled delivery for groceries,” Belsham said. “Integrating into people’s lives is what we want to do. There are some same-day and next-day deliveries, but if you’re not home, what good is it?”
“We have plans for all of the brands, including Bonobos to make it to Jet,” Echegoyen said. “There’s a ton of work and integration necessary for acquired companies. Bonobos had a playbook. Bonobos is just approaching its first year since its acquisition. If you integrate too quickly, you might lose yourself. We understand what it takes to build brands. We have a clear point of view of the gaps in the market. We have a great appetite for bringing those brands on board. They’re a clear fit.”
Echegoyen said, as of now, Jet has no plans to enter the private label apparel business.
Cross-pollination between Jet.com and Walmart U.S. e-commerce and Store No. 8, the innovation hub supported by the world’s largest retailer supports innovation. “We have allowed entrepreneurs to innovate freely. Jenny [Fleiss, cofounder and co-chief executive officer of Store No. 8’s Jetblack,] is using lots of interesting technology. The exciting thing is that there’s lots of overlap. We meet every month with Store No. 8 to see where we can collaborate.”
“Marc talks about the long tail,” Echegoyen said, referring to large numbers of products that sell in smaller quantities. “Walmart has a mission to get everything. We pick from the long tail what we think is right.” Personalization could help with that. “Take location, if it’s raining in New York today, we’ll send a message saying, ‘Maybe you need Hunter boots and your favorite soup.’ We think sites should be responsive and aware. If we know where you are, what time of day it is, and what you’ve bought, we can make the experience much better.”