After an annual meeting held by the retail giant in Arkansas, Walmart has publicly announced their intention to start a premium text-message-based personal shopping service, Forbes reports. Targeting a more upscale consumer who, in the words of the parent company, are "time-strapped urban parents" – Jetblack is the solution on offer.
For a prospective price of $50 per month, Jetblack members have the ability to text items they would like to purchase to working agents who would courier the item, delivering it the same day. Customers looking for more general advice on, say, birthday or anniversary presents would be eligible to receive free suggestions and follow-up delivery from personal shopping specialists.
Notable items that Jetblack has gone on-record as not being eligible for delivery are alcohol products and groceries, feasibly for legal reasons, as well as for reasons of direct competition when it comes to grocery delivery.
Jetblack was honed to a precision point in focus testing at Walmart's in-house incubator, Store No. 8, as CNN Money reports. Led by Rent the Runway co-founder Jenny Fleiss, the new texting service will likely be supported nationwide after rolling out to smaller test markets. The focus will be on a more harried, time-sensitive customer who wants high-quality goods delivered to their home or office on the double.
"With Jetblack, we have created an entirely new concept that enables consumers to get exactly what they need through the convenience of text messaging and the freedom of a nearly unlimited product catalogue," Fleiss said in a prepared statement. Her experience with Rent the Runway, a successful service offering rental of haute couture designer dresses, apparel, and accessories, lends itself seemingly well to the curation of a personal shopping set-list.
Revolutionizing retail seems to be the battlecry du jour in an uncertain sector facing massive competition to traditional strongholds embodied by large malls and enormous supercenters. Brick and mortar sales are struggling across the board with thousands of store closures over the past few years coinciding with titanic bankruptcies having been filed by the likes of Toys R' Us, and Sears Canada, as reported by CNN. Sears Holding Corp., the American side of the business and parent to many other divisions, could be liquidated as early as this year, according to The Street.
Should Jetblack succeed, it will be the first among many services looking to give extremely personalized, customized, and individualized delivery to customers, according to Martech Today. No longer content with idly browsing store shelves looking for a generic, catch-all product, today's consumers demand more choice. Walmart has not been resting on their laurels in this regard, having recently acquired indie-clothing favourites ModCloth, as Forbes reported, online-based outdoor equippers Moosejaw, as reported by the Detroit Free Press, and menswear brand Bonobos, as the New York Times reported.
Adding these stars to a constellation reinforced by the absolutely enormous acquisition of the massive Indian online-retailer Flipkart for about $16 billion, as CNN recently reported, the sky certainly does look very bright indeed for Walmart and their most recent experiment in the form of Jetblack.