Inside A Inc. Fulfillment Center On Cyber Monday

Amazon rival’s first holiday sales season has become tangled in shipping delays.

The start-up that launched over the summer and aims to undercut giant discounters including Amazon and Walmart has found itself telling customers their orders may not arrive in time for Christmas. A banner placed at the top of Jet’s website last week delivers the blow, alerting customers that Jet, “can no longer confidently guarantee delivery,” by Dec. 25 on items that aren’t eligible for two-day shipping.

“This year’s holiday gift rush has led to nationwide shipping delays that have affected many of our fulfillment partners,” the company said.

Jet, which has two million members, fulfills some orders from its own warehouses. Others come from retail partners. Its business model is based on finding the closest warehouse to a buyer in order to fulfill orders more efficiently and cut down on shipping costs.

For shipments from its own warehouses, which amount to essentials like toilet paper, consumers can still expect two-day shipping. It’s the other deliveries — the type of goods from retail partners that are more likely to be gifts — that Jet is warning may be delayed beyond the two to five-day shipping window it spells out in its FAQs.

“Because it’s our first holiday season, we erred on the side of preserving a great experience for our members by communicating super early about any potential impacts caused by industry-wide delays,” Liza Landsman, executive vice president and chief customer officer, told USA TODAY. “We’ve been very, very purposefully heavy handed because it’s the holidays and people really want to know.”

Upon checkout, Jet has been advertising a shipping window of three to seven business days since before Thanksgiving — toward the end of last week that changed to five to seven days. On Tuesday, it added language that made clear to customers that meant items might not arrive by Christmas anymore, Landsman said.

Jet is “still hitting the overwhelming majority of estimated delivery dates,” she said.

Jet hasn’t heard much negative feedback from customers since making the potential delay clear last week; rather people have been inquiring when their packages will arrive or asking to order something else, Landsman said.

The surge in online shopping this holiday season has put more pressure on retailers’ shipping capabilities. Online photo company Snapfish found itself the target of customer outrage over late delivery of holiday cards. The U.S. Postal Service, UPS and FedEx all expected to deliver a record number of packages this year, upwards of 960 million packages or pieces of mail.


By Adam