retail news in context, analysis with attitude

• Walmart plans to hold a party on Thanksgiving. Lots of them.

CNBC reports that Walmart “will hold events in stores on Nov. 22, Thanksgiving Day, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. with free coffee and cookies.” The story notes that “Walmart will officially kick off Black Friday deals in stores at 6 p.m. that Thursday. Online, Walmart will be rolling out Black Friday deals at 10 p.m. ET on Nov. 21, earlier than it's ever done before.”

"We're trying to allow folks on the East Coast to shop a little earlier," says Steve Bratspies, chief merchandising officer of Walmart US. “Whether [people] go online or in stores, we're agnostic to that."


CNN has a story about how Marc Lore, who runs Walmart’s e-commerce business in the US, remains high on a new in-house business called Jetblack, described as “ a chat-based personal shopping service targeted at time-strapped moms in New York City … Members can text Jetblack when they run out of Cheerios or toothpaste, or need a last-minute gift recommendation for a kid's birthday. Jetblack promises same or next-day delivery with free returns.”

Membership - in Jetblack costs $50 a month, which likely limits participation to people of means, but that doesn’t matter. Walmart, the story says, “is betting that Jetblack will give the company insights into ‘conversational commerce’ - shopping through text messages, online chats, and voice commands - that could become the next wave of retail … The service relies on artificial intelligence and team of buyers to respond to members' text requests with a curated menu of choices pulled from Walmart.com, Jet.com, as well as other retailers like Pottery Barn.”
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