woman underwater

Jet.com seems to have ticked off some of the biggest names in retail by adding affiliate links to its site without asking permission.

According to The Wall Street Journal, companies like Amazon.com, Wal-Mart, Gap and Home Depot asked to have their links pulled after discovering that the new discount site had included their logos and links on its “Jet Anywhere” affiliate page, and promised customers discounts for purchasing from them.

Some have seen Jet’s move of automatically adding hundreds of retailers to their site without going through the official affiliate enrollment process that many have in place, as underhanded.

Others, including Jet itself apparently don’t see the harm.

What It Should Have Done

CMSWire talked to Tom Caporaso, CEO of Clarus Commerce — the company behind FreeShipping.com and Return Saver — to get his perspective on whether or not this will hurt Jet’s chances for success in the online retail world.

“At the end of the day it was a bit of a misstep,” said Caporaso. “The affiliate marketing world is pretty well known. Jet knew it and took the risk. But, if they start to drive volume and velocity, I think they’ll recoup.”

Because Jet didn’t take the time to build up relationships with these retailers before slapping their logos on the page, they’ve lost some credibility, said Caporaso.

“They should have put in the time to establish trust with those retailers versus expanding their network through a huge linking exercise,” he explained. “It does take time and resources — including people — but putting those relationships in place is time and money well spent.”

He added that it would have been easy for Jet to leverage the positive PR around their launch to tell their story to potential affiliates and begin building those relationships.

“They have a great story and tons of PR,” he said. “They also plan on doing a $100 million marketing promotion in the fall. Retailers want to hear that; it will drive a lot of customers through Jet.com.”

Can It Recover?

Whether or not this misstep will hurt Jet’s chances in the long run remains to be seen, said Caporaso, but he’s optimistic that Jet will bounce back.

“I think if they’re driving a lot of consumers through the site and retailers are getting customers that convert, they’ll get the retailers interested in the platform again,” he said.

But they also need to tell their story and focus on long-term partnerships rather than quick fixes, he added.

“Even if you don’t have Williams Sonoma or Gap on launch day, building relationships with those stores on day one is really the best way to go about it. If you don’t have the size of the network initially, but you do in two to three months, it’s still the right way to do it.”

Title image by unsplash.