How will Jetblack lessons inform Walmart’s conversational commerce efforts?
Walmart has announced that it will discontinue its Jetblack personal shopping text service on Feb. 21.
The subscription program, which combined human and artificial intelligence to offer product recommendations to upscale customers in Manhattan and Brooklyn, was the first project launched from Walmart’s Store No8 technology incubator in 2018.
Members, who paid $50 a month, were able to text orders for non-perishable items to Jetblack and receive delivery at their doors. While most of the items sold come from Walmart or Jet.com, the service also procured other products from local retailers and brand suppliers.
In a post on the Walmart blog, Scott Eckert, SVP, next generation retail and principal, Store No8, writes that the Jetblack pilot was part of a larger exploration into conversational commerce with a mindset that it be an “important way” for the retailer to serve its customers in the future.
“We’ve learned a lot through Jetblack, including how customers respond to the ability of ordering by text as well as the type of items they purchase through texting,” writes Mr. Eckert. “We’re eager to apply these learnings from Jetblack and leverage its core capabilities within Walmart.”
The Wall Street Journal reports that Walmart was losing about $15,000 a year on each Jetblack member. Jenny Fleiss, a co-founder of Rent the Runway and CEO of Jetblack going back to its launch, left the company in October. She was replaced by Nate Faust, Walmart senior vice president of e-commerce logistics.
Walmart company spokesperson Ravi Jariwala told CNBC that 58 of Jetblack’s 350 employees will be integrated into the retailer’s conversational commerce technology team.
The discontinuation of Jetblack is part of a larger effort for Walmart to rein in costs on its unprofitable digital properties. Over the past year, Walmart has sold ModCloth, cut staff at Bonobos and Jet.com, and closed the Omaha headquarters of Hayneedle.
- Moving Jet black from Incubation into our Broader Business – Walmart
- Walmart to End Jetblack Shopping Service – The Wall Street Journal
- Walmart will discontinue high-end Jetblack service this month – CNBC
- Walmart sells ModCloth, seeks Jetblack spinoff and cuts Bonobos jobs – RetailWire
- Is Walmart at an online crossroads? – RetailWire
- Walmart’s newest service brings texting and personal shopping together – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What lessons do you think Walmart learned from its Jetblack experience? How will this affect the retailer’s future actions around conversational commerce?