Jet.com Update

In case you read that optimistic post I wrote a while back about the tremendous possibilities of Jet.com, I thought I'd share an update.

It's just another e-commerce site, and it's not even very good at the basics. There are some deals, but there are more items that seem to be priced the same as competitors. Jet doesn't do the necessary job of proving the deals exist. In 2015, a new online store competing on price bears the burden of proof, and Jet fails to offer enough evidence to remove my reasonable doubt.

Jet is live today if you'd like to see for yourself.

Amazon + Costco = Marc Lore's Jet.com

I worked for a big warehouse club chain for almost nine years, and I think they may be about to get schooled by a startup.

I just finished reading this article, and it seems Marc Lore has a really good shot at making a huge impact in retail. Lore ran a few startups before his Diapers.com parent company was bought by Amazon in 2010, and he stayed with the Bezos gang for a couple years after the deal. Now he’s back on his own and going after membership-based retail in the form of Jet.com. The idea behind Jet is as old as Sol Price’s original concept for the club channel.

In its purest form, the club model is:

  1. Members pay to shop and the company makes all its profit from those paid memberships.
  2. Items for sale only have to be priced high enough to cover the costs of operating the business, so prices will be lower than non-club competitors who are pricing to make a profit from each individual item sold.
  3. Low prices attract more members, GOTO Step 1.

Brick and mortar clubs like Costco, Sam’s Club, and BJ’s have strayed from the pure model, supplementing profits with add-on services and ancillary businesses, not to mention the upward pressure of ever-increasing costs inherent in maintaining a physical presence for members. While Costco is well known for holding the line on markups, Sam’s Club and BJ’s have taken some additional profit in recent years by letting prices creep up or letting quality slip in categories where members are less likely to notice.

More importantly, Lore has realized something all three traditional clubs have failed to execute well. Online sales offer an even greater opportunity to minimize the cost of goods, offer even lower prices, and drive greater membership sales as a result.

How? In addition to the classic e-commerce advantages of reduced overhead, more efficient shipment practices mean lower costs, so Jet will focus on providing a platform, connecting members to regional or even local merchants who can offer better pricing thanks to lower delivery costs, as well as discounts for add-on items or product bundles. None of the traditional warehouse clubs have truly cracked online sales, so the door for Jet is wide open. If you need to see for yourself, simply visit any of them. As a charter member of Amazon Prime, I’ve been waiting years for Amazon to flex their muscle and give the old school clubs a run for their money. I’m guessing Lore learned more than a little about selling and renewing memberships during his time in the jungle.

One final way Jet is besting traditional clubs is by offering three months of free membership for everyone who wants to give it a try, and they’re extending that to six months for “Jet Insiders” (aka anyone with an email address) who sign up by February 6th. Combine that with a clever social media referral strategy[1] they are calling ‘Shares for Shares’ that rewards the top insider with 100,000 stock options, and you have a big carrot that only a wild and crazy startup would offer. That’s a hell of a lot more incentive than either Costco or Sam’s Club have ever given me to refer others to sign up.


  1. My referral link is right here if you’re curious.  ↩

Best Shelving Product Review

I was adding a few things to my shopping list for Home Depot and I came across this fantastic five-star review for a set of steel shelving.

I knew this was overkill when I bought it, but after looking for months this was the only free standing shelving I could find that would straddle my washer and dryer. This thing will be standing unscathed after the apocalypse. Centuries from now when other lifeforms send exploratory craft to our desolate planet, this is what they will find.
— Missy, HomeDepot.com Reviewer http://reviews.homedepot.com/profiles/1999/420110672/profile.htm

Nerd.is Gift Guide Companion - iOS and Mac Apps

As a companion to my Nerdfather’s Day Gift Guide, my wife suggested I compile a list of iOS and Mac apps that would also be great gifts for nerds. I told her I don’t think many people even know you can gift apps from the iTunes store. She said I should cover that too. She made a great point on both counts, so here we go. Beware, this post is full of App Store links that will launch programs outside the browser. You’ve been warned.

How to Gift Apps from the iTunes or Mac App Stores

  1. Find the app you want to give as a gift.
  2. On the detail page for the app, the purchase button will have a small black down arrow just to the right–click that arrow.
  3. A drop-down list will appear and the first option will be ‘Gift This App’. Click that option.
  4. Complete the gift form and confirm your purchase. You can either have Apple send an email with the gift included, or you can print out a certificate to give directly to your recipient. That’s it!

iPad/iPhone

  • Comics by comiXology - Free app, Comic prices vary - My favorite comic reader for iPad. There are publisher-specific options as well, but this one has the largest number of titles that I’m aware of.
  • Evernote - Free - Evernote has been my key to going Paperless at home. I upgraded to a Premium account ($45/year) to get even more features, but the free account offers more than enough to try the service and decide if it’s right for you.
  • GoodReader - $4.99 - This is the Swiss Army Knife of file viewers for iPad or iPhone. My only beef is that they haven’t merged the iPad and iPhone versions.
  • TaskPaper - $9.99 - If you want to track to-do lists without all the frills, this is a great app. One purchase gets you both iPhone/iPad versions and syncing between multiple devices is easy.
  • iThoughtsHD - $9.99 - This is iPad only, but I wouldn’t want to try to brainstorm on the smaller iPhone screen anyway. The latest update added Retina display graphics and it is fantastic.
  • Byword - $2.99 - Currently intro priced at 50% off, Byword is an amazing deal. One purchase gets both iPad/iPhone versions, and it is an awesome text editor. It also includes Markdown shortcuts if that’s your fancy.
  • Calvetica - $2.99 - Another great deal for a universal app, Calvetica is a far better alternative to the stock Calendar app in iOS.
  • RadarUS - $2.99 - This one is for the weather nerds. Tired of waiting for 15 minute old radar data in other apps? Get a super high-res radar image that updates more frequently. Includes all the bells and whistles you could want and covers both iPad and iPhone.
  • iMovie - $4.99 - Many have complained about the revisions Apple has made to iMovie, but I think the iPad version is the best video editing software I’ve used. No, you can’t do a lot of fancy stuff, but what you can do is make quick, simple, videos that are easy to share with others. Combined with the 1080p camera on the new iPad, you can make some awesome stuff.
  • Wikipanion - Free - Are you still settling for the web version of Wikipedia on your iOS devices? Wikipanion provides a better viewing experience and costs nothing!
  • EMD PTE - Free - It’s the periodic table. It’s free. Enough said.
  • NASA - Free - NASA’s various probes and telescopes have captured some incredible high-res images of the cosmos over the years. This app gives you access to the full archive.
  • National Geographic - $19.99/year (free for existing subscribers) - Many of the iPad magazine offerings are terrible. National Geographic is the exception.
  • Mr. Reader - $3.99 - I’ve tried just about every RSS reader released for iPad since 2010. This is my favorite.
  • Instapaper - $4.99 - Marco Arment’s app is a must-have for anyone who consumes online content on their iOS device. One price gets you both versions of the app.
  • Tweetbot - $2.99 - Tweetbot is the BEST Twitter client for iOS, hands down. Best of all, if you buy both iPad and iPhone versions, you can sync your timeline position between them, a feature I’ve been wanting for years.
  • Plants vs Zombies HD - $6.99 - My favorite game in years. Extremely replayable and loads of fun.
  • Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP - $4.99 - Incredibly innovative game with an awesome soundtrack.
  • Atari Greatest Hits - Free app/$5.99 for 100 game bundle - If the Atari 2600 has significance for you, this is a must have. Combine this app with an iCade for the ultimate retro experience.
  • OmniFocus - $39.99 for iPad/$19.99 for iPhone - I have all three versions of Omnifocus, but the iPad/iPhone combo are where I spend 85% of my time with the software. For big time GTD-ers, this is the perfect app.
  • Tiny Wings - $0.99 - A beautifully simple game for the iPhone that is surprisingly addictive. Play it upside-down for an extra challenge.
  • Photo Transfer App - $2.99 - Awesome app for easily moving photos and video back and forth between iOS devices without syncing through iTunes. I use this all the time to movie photo and video files to my iPad for editing. There is also a download for OS X that lets you get your Mac in on the transferring action.
  • Camera+ - $0.99 - Superior to the native Camera app in the most important way–speed. It’s really helped us get some awesome photos of the baby, despite her constant movement. Great built-in editing options as well.
  • WootWatch - Free - Great free app for keeping up with the latest deals from the various sites at Woot.com. Very handy during a WootOff!
  • Downcast - $1.99 - I recently switched to Downcast for managing my podcast feeds and I’m very pleased. It’s far superior to the native Apple option, and after the Instacast 2.0 downgrade, this is definitely the way to go.
  • Flow - Free - This app is Amazon’s entry into the realm of AI visual recognition apps. You’ll never want to scan another bar code after using it.
  • Zombies! Run! - $7.99 - This fitness app marries game elements and a sort of zombie radio play with the fitness tracking elements similar to so many running apps. The end result is a fun app that also helps you get or stay fit.
  • xkcd HD - Free - Every nerd should have this app to keep up with the best web comic out there.
  • Fish - Free - As opposed to releasing this writing as a blog post or an ebook, Robin Sloan decided to create something new. The result made me think about how I consume content on the web. It only took 10 minutes to read, but I’m still thinking about it weeks later.
  • Barista - $2.99 - If your coffee nerd spent big bucks on an espresso machine that neither of you know how to use, this is the app you need. Barista gives straight-forward tips on making several of the most popular premium coffee drinks. At a minimum, it will absolutely help you pull better shots.

Mac

  • TextExpander for Mac - $34.99 - Save keystrokes like crazy with this awesome utility.
  • WriteRoom - $9.99 - My favorite simple text editor. It has a great fullscreen mode and the regular mode is perfect for working in Markdown with a preview app like Marked (see below).
  • 1Password - $49.99 - Don’t leave your password management to the browser. 1Password syncs to all your iOS devices and has great plugins for all the popular browsers. Oh, and it does a lot more than just password management.
  • Marked - $3.99 - If you use Markdown or MultiMarkdown, this app might be the best four bucks you’ll ever spend. Brett Terpstra is practically giving away this awesome app that renders a realtime preview of your Markdown that can be exported as HTML, PDF, or several other options.
  • Acorn - $49.99 - I think of Acorn as a Photoshop alternative for normal people. It has most of the power without all the bloat Photoshop has accumulated through the years.
  • Scrivener - $44.99 - For more involved documents that require structure, a simple text editor like WriteRoom won’t do. Scrivener is the polar opposite of a simple text editor. Whether writing a novel, a software manual, or a screenplay, this program can do it all.
  • OmniFocus - $79.99 - Complete the trifecta with the full desktop version of this great software.
  • iBank - $59.99 - This app makes Quicken look like something your dog would throw up onto the carpet. iBank is what a native Mac app for personal finance always should have been.
  • Audiobook Builder - $5.99 - If you have audiobooks on CD that you are importing into iTunes, than you’ll notice they aren’t formatted in the nice iPod-friendly audiobook format that downloaded titles are. This app allows you to format all those individual tracks into one file, making it much easier to manage.
  • Reeder - $9.99 - This used to be my favorite iOS feed reader as well, but then I discovered Mr. Reader as profiled above in the iOS section. That said, Reeder is a fully capable RSS reader, and is certainly the best current desktop option I’ve seen.
  • PicFrame - $0.99 - This one isn’t particularly nerdy, in fact it’s quite the opposite. It makes it super easy to make photo collages with customizable frames. My wife and I use it to make wallpaper of adorable baby photos. We’ve tried several different apps and this is definitely our favorite.
  • Delicious Library 2 - $34.99 - Best app out there for tracking a media library. I use it primarily for videos and games, though it tracks several other categories as well. The lending library feature is great and I really like the publish to web feature. To see sample output just click here.

Wow, I didn’t intend for this list to be so long when I started. It turns out, I have purchased a lot more apps than I realized. Despite all that, I’m sure there are other great apps I failed to mention, so be sure to let me know what they are.