Jet’s online marketplace, which launched two weeks ago, offers discounts on a wide variety of products to its members, who pay a $50 annual membership fee. The retailer’s “Jet Anywhere” section contains a list of hundreds “affiliate links” to popular online retailers, like Nike Inc. and Home Depot.
When a customer clicks one of the links and makes a subsequent purchase on the affiliated site, Jet gives them 30 percent cash back. The problem? Many of these affiliates had no idea they were listed on Jet.com.
Jet.com chief customer officer Liza Landsman said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that they automatically enrolled hundreds of popular retailers onto Jet Anywhere using VigLink Inc., an intermediary that sends traffic to sites without getting individual approval for each affiliate.
Many brands were unhappy to discover that they were listed on Jet.com without express permission, Landsman said, either because they view Jet as a competitor or because there was no deal negotiated beforehand.
Wal-Mart, Walgreens, Target Corp., Staples Inc., and Estee Lauder Cos. all had their links removed from Jet Anywhere, and Carly Rosenberg, Chief Marketing Officer for online fashion marketplace Bluefly Inc., told the Journal that she felt “a little blindsided” by the experience and that Jet “went about it the wrong way.”
Landsman added, however, that some companies weren’t bothered by the unapproved affiliation with Jet.com. Beauty retailer Birchbox Inc. and Hudson Bay Co., owner of Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor, seemed happy to have the extra traffic.