Bottom line: Walmart is trying to remain relevant in the digital age with enhanced user experiences. Amazon is still dominating the online marketplace while other businesses are struggling to adapt and make it easy to order anything at the push of a button.
Mobile apps exist for nearly every major brand that has a product to sell. After all, it should be made as easy as possible for consumers to purchase if high volume is to be expected. In an effort to standout from the pages of shopping apps already available, Walmart is backing a new startup service called Jetblack, branded as "J".
Instead of being yet another app that gets downloaded and forgotten about, Jetblack is a text message service that allows items to be purchased. Should you need some help deciding what to buy, it is possible to ask questions about products.
For now, the service will start being offered in Brooklyn and Manhattan, New York. When a text message is sent, a mass of artificial intelligence bots scan the query. Should bots be confused or unsure what to do with a request, humans can take over and fulfill an order or offer recommendations.
One of the key benefits of the program is fast and "free" shipping. Members of the program receive same-day and next-day shipping on most orders with no minimum purchase. If gifts are being sent, free gift wrapping is also available. However, the term free should be used loosely since a monthly subscription is required and costs $50 per month.
Currently, membership is only available by referral code or by joining a waiting list and then later being accepted into the program. Upon enrollment, users will receive a roughly 10-minute phone call to ask them all about their preferences of products. When customers then ask for products, prior purchases and preferences can be taken into account.