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Brief Published: 11 Jun 2018

Text-to-Buy: Walmart’s Simple Sell

Walmart’s start-up incubator Store No. 8 has launched new concierge service Jetblack in select New York City neighbourhoods. Jetblack fuses chatbot shopping with same-day delivery, allowing customers to order items from Walmart and rival retailers such as Sephora and Saks via text message.

Targeting affluent and time-strapped urban parents, the membership-based service ($50 per month) includes gift recommendations, free wrapping, speedy delivery and easy returns. To request an item, users send a message and then receive product recommendations (culled from Walmart and other retailers) via text. The option to shop across multiple retailers using only one interface and delivery partner differentiates the service from ‘one-brand-only’ suppliers.

Deploying artificial intelligence, Jetblack learns what consumers are buying and – if applicable – sends out push notifications (messages) to alert them when they are running low. The same technology in partnership with human experts is used for personalised gift recommendations. For instance, when texting “I need a gift for my 10-year old daughter’s birthday party”, it will respond with a curated product selection via text.

Founded by Jenny Fleiss, the co-founder of US clothing rental start-up Rent the Runway, the service is currently available in Manhattan and Brooklyn for consumers who live in buildings with a doorman. A US-wide roll-out is planned for later this year.

See also Concierge Commerce and Best New Brand Chatbots.