Should You Shop With The Jellyfish?

I heard about Jellyfish in the latest edition of SpreeMail and was intrigued:

Jellyfish is a new kind of search engine. We call it the Internet’s first buying engine. Search engines are great for finding information, but we think you also need a search engine that is perfect for when you want to buy something online.

Enter Jellyfish.com. Sure we make it simple for you to find the right product from a trusted merchant. But we also do something really different too: We share our revenue with you. Think of us like a Robin-Hood-like search engine that takes a percentage of the revenue you generate through your buying activity and redistributes it to you. I bet your search engine has never done that!

The basic principal here it that whatever monies Jellyfish gets from advertising, affiliate sales or whatever fees they get from participating merchants they’ll split with you — with this promise:

This is our Jellyfish.com cash back promise: WE SHARE at least half of every $1 we earn when you shop and buy products using Jellyfish.com*.

Looking for the *, at the bottom of the page I found this:

*Please note: We have a handful of stores in our engine that won’t allow us to share, so when you buy from them we can’t give cash back. But don’t worry; you will always see clearly the amount of cash back you get on any purchase.

Which means their promise is null and void if the company they are working with forbids it.

Huh?

If that’s your promise, and you’re working for me, the shopper, shouldn’t you be telling the merchants what they need to do in order to participate?

I said “huh?” again when I read this:

In reality, Jellyfish.com is one big marketplace of stores competing for your attention. But instead of annoying you with advertising, we allow stores to use their advertising dollars to lower your end price. If you like pretty pictures, you can see a picture of how this works here. And no we aren’t eBay (we wish), but we think our patent-pending marketplace is like eBay in reverse. Instead of bidding for deals, all you have to do is search to uncover the stores that have already bid the most to create the best deal for you.

So at Jellyfish, the bids and deals are not just about the prices you pay but the cash-back, neither of which is certain. Not off to a good start in my book.

But it wouldn’t be fair to end the revue so quickly. Maybe it would be nicer for Jellyfish if I quit now, but I’m opting to be fair to you instead.

Along with the savings ambiguity, Jellyfish offers several other things: a shopping search engine (which is not new, see Google’s Product Search aka Froogle, for one) and a shopping social network (which also is not new, see StyleHive, which is actually a lot of fun).

I used the Jellyfish shopping search engine to look for — what else? — lingerie.

Not very much to choose from: 1,074 search results for “lingerie” in Clothing & Accessories

A scant amount, roughly 10% of Amazon’s 10,690 results for a lingerie search.

The compare prices feature at Jellyfish is a waste of time as each item is only listed at one store, and a quick use of Google’s shopping search shows that the lingerie items at Jellyfish are close-outs and general lingerie stock, which you can not only find at many online stores, but in many cases you can find cheaper — even from the same vendor! (See example here using Adorable Lingerie Printed Charmeuse Chemise.)

Amazon wins here: once again the prices are cheaper.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather save my $3+ up-front than get a “maybe” on the kick-back, whatever its amount.

And, again, the overall selection is broader at Amazon.

Now for the matter of a social networking shopping site.

I’m not one of those who finds shopping with friends (online or off) as much or more fun than purchasing and owning of the actual item(s) you get. I like my stuff! So maybe I’m not the best judge of that whole business. For example, I like StyleHive a lot and a rarely remember to share items there. But looking at the features at Jellyfish I have to say they have a lot of them. Picture sharing, list making, a chat feature etc., and the ability to hook up with other shopping folks. But again, most of this you can do at many places, including StyleHive and Amazon — even eBay now.

But what sticks out most in my mind is that folks seem to have less purchases made with merchants — zeros in many cases — than they do via Jellyfish’s Smack Shopping, their online TV channel similar to HSN etc. Which makes me, perhaps cynically, figure that’s what Jellyfish’s whole game is.

Overall, I felt more than a little stung by the Jellyfish.

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