retail news in context, analysis with attitude

CNBC reports that Walmart is rolling out its Jetblack personal shopping service in the New York area, moving beyond beta testing to make the order-via-text service available to more metropolitan area shoppers.

According to the story, “At $50 per month, Jetblack is not an exact counter to Amazon Prime, which costs $12.99 per month. Rather, it is intended for more affluent shoppers, particularly moms. It also isn't exclusive to products on Walmart.com and Jet.com. It will send shoppers items from other retailers, such as Saks, Bluemercury and Pottery Barn … Jetblack is also working with third-party delivery services such as Deliv and Uber to bulk up its supply chain.
… A membership includes white-glove delivery as soon as the same day or next day, complimentary gift wrapping and easy returns.”

Jetblack has been developed by Walmart’s Store No. 8 incubator, and is “being led by Rent the Runway co-founder Jenny Fleiss, who joined Walmart last year.”

"The goal is to think about game-changing technology, to think about the future of retail five years down the road," Fleiss says.

CNBC writes that “other projects being run under Walmart's Store No. 8 incubator include Project Kepler, a start-up working to build cashier-less stores similar to Amazon Go, and a virtual reality initiative.

"Thousands of people are on our waitlist [for Jetblack]," Fleiss said. "We want to save people time.”
KC's View:
I wonder if Sam Walton ever would’ve dreamed that the words “Walmart” and “white glove delivery” would be used in the same sentence.

Probably not.

Walmart clearly has decided that efforts such as Jetblack - and Jet, and Moosejaw, and Bonobos - are necessary to gain it acceptability with more affluent consumers, though there certainly has been some evidence, reported here and elsewhere, that some of these consumers are not responding.

I guess the question that needs to be asked - I assume that Walmart has asked and answered it - is whether Walmart is better off expanding its penetration with its traditional shopper base, or trying to make inroads with people who aren’t Walmart shoppers. I assume the answer was that Walmart needs to do both, because that’s what Amazon is doing.

Which leads to another question: Is “that’s what Amazon is doing” a good enough reason?