Walmart thinks that some day you’ll just send a text when you need to stock up on cereal and diapers.
In May, Walmart rolled out Jetblack, a chat-based personal shopping service targeted at time-strapped moms in New York City.
Members can text Jetblack when they run out of Cheerios or toothpaste, or need a last-minute gift recommendation for a kid’s birthday. Jetblack promises same or next-day delivery with free returns.
At $50 a month, Jetblack is unlikely to have much appeal beyond wealthy shoppers in big cities willing to pay a premium for convenience. But pushing out Jetblack to the rest of the country is not Walmart’s long-term goal.
Instead, Walmart (WMT) is betting that Jetblack will give the company insights into “conversational commerce” — shopping through text messages, online chats, and voice commands — that could become the next wave of retail.
Personalized shopping programs are the latest trend in retail. Jenny Fleiss, the CEO of Jetblack, co-founded Rent the Runway before launching Jetblack.
But Jetblack is the first company to develop out of Store No. 8— Walmart’s tech incubator. Store No. 8 is tasked with developing companies that will help Walmart stay ahead of shopping trends.
The incubator is the brainchild of Marc Lore, who founded Jet.com and moved over to Walmart when it bought his startup two years ago for $3.3 billion.
Lore is high on Jetblack’s potential. “I couldn’t be more excited about this one,” he said last month at the company’s annual investor day.