Walmart is shutting down its Manhattan-based concierge delivery service Jetblack two years after its experimental launch, as it continued to lose money while not gaining customers or finding a buyer, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Walmart had been in talks with potential investors last year in an effort to sell the unit, including Microsoft and New Enterprise Associates, but the talks ended without bearing any fruit, the WSJ reported.
Jetblack CEO Jennifer Fleiss stepped down last year, replaced by Nate Faust, who had been Walmart’s SVP of ecommerce logistics and a veteran of acquired unit Jet.com. Jetblack had been the first company spun out of Store No. 8, Walmart’s in-house incubator and innovation lab.
Jetblack had only 1,000 customers as of 2019 and was losing $15,000 per head, the WSJ reported. Members paid $600 per year to have items delivered the same day, while also having access to personal shoppers who could make recommendations. The service will stop taking orders as of Feb. 21.
Fleiss said last year one of the aims of the Jetblack experiment was to use its human agents to train an artificial intelligence system so the personal shopper service could eventually be fully automated using voice commands. So far, voice-based commerce using smart devices like speakers has not taken off as quickly as supporters had hoped.