With online shopping trends rapidly entering the mainstream market, Walmart has introduced a new kind of convenient shopping experience. The company’s tech incubator, Store No 8, has introduced their first market experiment, Jetblack, which is a concierge-style text message-based service that allows consumers to communicate with a digitized personal shopper for their shopping needs.
Jetblack was launched on Thursday in Manhattan and Brooklyn as part of an eight-month pilot period. There is currently a waitlist for this service and customers with an invite for the pilot program must shop in a restricted building with a doorman. The Jetblack service costs about 50 dollars a month and provides fast responses and same-day delivery. In addition, Jetblack members get courier delivery in recyclable bags, curated recommendations, hassle-free returns (Walmart will pick up returns themselves) and there is no minimum spending limit for services. Customers can also communicate with their Jetblack personal shopper through online chat or voice messages.
Although this service sounds like a luxury for busy executives, Walmart is targeting busy parents with their convenient artificial intelligence tool. Parents can even ask for recommendations and have a conversation with their Jetblack tool. The technology goes as far as getting expert reviews for products, recognizing a product from a picture and returning items on the spot. All products will be sourced from Walmart, Jet.com or from local brands and shops. Through this service, Walmart hopes to pioneer a new shopping trend that they call “conversational commerce.”
“Our e-commerce strategy has been focused on three elements: nailing the fundamentals, leveraging our unique strengths to play offense and innovating for the future. Through Store No 8 and Jetblack, we’re able to build and test technology that can lay the foundation for capabilities we believe will have a profound impact on how customers may shop five years from now,” Marc Lore, President and CEO of Walmart US eCommerce, said in a statement. “Powered by conversational commerce, the future of retail will bring convenience and high-touch personalization to the forefront for consumers everywhere.”
Another project the retail giant is working on is called Project Kepler, which is an initiative to launch checkout free stores that are similar to Amazon Go. Although the project is still in the works, it seems that Walmart is covering all their bases by incorporating brick-and-mortar retail with e-commerce shopping, conversational commerce and artificial intelligence.
With Amazon currently leading in terms of market revenue in the retail space, it makes sense that other major players are trying to follow in their footsteps. However, Walmart’s new Jetblack service stands out from the rest as a new and innovative platform for consumers to use in order to simplify their shopping experience. If Jetblack picks up steam, we are likely to see more conversational commerce technology in the near future.