Jetblack, Walmart’s new invite-only, personalized shopping service aimed at busy moms in Manhattan and Brooklyn, allows members to get same-day orders fulfilled by texting them in, at $50 a month. It’s the latest example of the beast of Bentonville seeking to go upmarket and out-innovate main rival Amazon.
Led by Jenny Fleiss, co-founder of Rent the Runway and part of Walmart’s Store No. 8 team, Jetblack is the first business to be launched by the Silicon Valley-based incubator. The concierge-like service lets members sent text or voice product requests and curated recommendations come back via a combination of AI and live professional buyers. Orders are fulfilled the same day or next day at no additional charge and can be gift-wrapped.
Products range across home, health, parenting, fashion and wellness categories. Orders are sourced both from Walmart and Jet.com as well as from luxury retailers like Saks Fifth Avenue, Pottery Barn and Sephora as well as local brands and specialty shops. There is no minimum order threshold and Jetblack also handles returns.
Jetblack associates determine shopper preferences in a 10-minute call with new members, gathering information on things like favorite brands, allergies and frequently ordered items. Since being beta tested in Manhattan earlier this year, Jetblack shoppers have been buying more than 10 items a week, Fleiss told Bloomberg, and there are thousands on the waiting list.
Jennifer Sherman, SVP of Product and strategy at Kibo, said it’s noteworthy that Walmart isn’t offering replenishment-style shopping like groceries or everyday essentials with Jetblack in an obvious nod to the upscale demographic. She also pointed out Walmart is betting the future of luxury shopping will clearly be mobile driven.
“It comes as no surprise that Walmart is investing in new and novel ways to meet customer where they are,” Sherman said. “Headless commerce is an interesting area and retailers have yet to fully crack this nut, whether or not it’s on their primary ecommerce site. This move by Walmart marks a step toward innovation in the conversational commerce, personalized shopping and convenient omnichannel delivery space.”
MCM Musings: A raft of recent purchases of popular ecommerce brands like Bonobos, Modcloth and Moosejaw have been aimed at broadening Walmart’s appeal – and making over its image – beyond the discount demographic. The introduction of Jetblack is a quantum leap forward in this progression. It remains to be seen how broadly it will penetrate but early reception and buzz appear very positive. Your move, Amazon!