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Business Insider has a story about Walmart’s Jetblack personal shopping service, which for $50 a month “offers next-day delivery of whatever customers want - apart from food, alcohol, or drugs - via couriers or expedited shipping. Returns are also handled by Jetblack couriers.”

According to the story, “Customers can simply text ‘J’ - the service's sometimes real human, sometimes artificial-intelligence number - what they want, or they can ask for gift recommendations. Simple commands like reordering consumable supplies or asking for a specific item are handled solely by the AI. But as the company's AI gets smarter and better at responding to customers, the goal is to let it offer more recommendations, too, using information about what other customers have had suggested to them and what they ultimately bought.”

The story says that since launching in 2018, Jetblack has expanded its membership list, though it continues to be selective and only operates for the moment in New York (a place where, as it happens, Walmart has met considerable political resistance to the opening of its traditional stores).

Jetblack also is serving as a method through which Walmart can learn things that can be applied to other segments of its business.

“As Jetblack is able to gain more information on this customer — what they buy, who they buy for, how often they buy, and how much they spend — it can be fed back into Walmart at large, helping the retail giant to better target its e-commerce offerings and combat the threat of Amazon,” the story says, adding that “some of these learnings are already being relayed.” For example, because of requests made by jetblack shoppers, Walmart added a filter to its mainstream site allowing people to shop for baby strollers based on whether or not they have sun shields.
KC's View:
It is interesting how Walmart is willing to go so far outside its traditional lane to develop a business that serves an entirely different consumer base. This may not work everywhere, but it certainly may be applicable to high-density, high-income urban markets where Walmart is looking to expand its penetration.

It is doing the same thing with businesses such as Bonobos and Moosejaw, which it has acquired … understanding that traditional lanes may get you from one place to another, but they also can be limiting at a time when it may not make sense.

Walmart continues to impress and, at times, confound … but in a good way.