If Walmart has its way, you may never have to step foot inside another Walmart again — at least, not if you’re a city-dwelling parent.
The big-box giant’s business incubator arm just launched a new premium personal shopping startup called Jetblack that lets you text your shopping requests to a bot, which then sends your items out for same-day or next-day delivery. The products themselves come from Walmart or its other businesses, like Jet.com, as well as from Saks Fifth Avenue and local specialty retailers. Currently, the service is available only in New York City, although the company says it plans to expand (no word yet on into which cities).
Don’t expect the service to be cheap. It’s considerably more expensive than Amazon.com, and more exclusive: Membership is $50 a month, and it’s by invite only. New York City residents can sign up now for the waitlist, and while there are no qualifications listed on who can join, the service is being marketed to busy urban parents.
Before you scoff at the price, Jetblack does include concierge services. Say you need a birthday gift for your child’s classmate. You can text a general idea of what you need (toy for a sporty 4-year-old girl) and a Jetblack agent will text you back recommendations. Or say your coworker is wearing a jacket you simply must have. Text a photo to Jetblack, and the agent will find it for you and come back with a price. Not loving it when you actually try it on? Jetblack will also pick up returns from your home. (At the moment, though, the service doesn’t ship any perishables, which means you’ll still have to stop by the grocery and wine stores.)
Once Jetblack learns your favorite brands, it’ll know to send you those automatically when you text, for instance, “Max’s diapers” or “Sam’s vitamins.”
Time will tell whether Walmart’s latest attempt to compete with Amazon will take off, but one thing’s for sure: Technology is making it a lot harder to kick that online-shopping habit.