Walmart’s Jetblack Service Couldn’t Stand Up Against Amazon

After a two-year run, NYC-based personal shopping service Jetblack has shut down after failing to generate any profits.

The Walmart-owned subsidiary has had to lay off around 300 workers as it realizes that concierge-style online shopping may not be that in demand. The members-only service had allowed customers to text almost any shopping request and Jetblack would find the products and then deliver them the same day or the next day for no extra charge.

Isn’t this what Amazon does? Without the texting? It seems that Walmart’s plan to take on Amazon was a bust. Why would it succeed when it cost $50 a month, or about $600 annually. This is about five times as much as what Amazon charges for its Prime membership.

Jetblack, which launched in mid-2018 by Walmart’s technology incubator Store No8, will now be absorbed by the company’s broader e-commerce operations.

The company wrote on its website, “After nearly two years in New York City, Jet black has ended our current operations. Our technology will be rolling into Walmart to power its conversational commerce capabilities and build new experiences for customers. We are servicing any outstanding orders and inquiries for customers through February 21, 2020. After this date, we are upholding our 30-day return policy through March 14, 2020. J and our iPhone app will no longer be available.”

Scott Eckert, senior vice president for next-generation retail and principal at Store No8 wrote in a post, “We’ve learned a lot through Jetblack, including how customers respond to the ability of ordering by text as well as the type of items they purchase through texting. We’re eager to apply these learnings from Jetblack and leverage its core capabilities within Walmart.”

He added, “As we said in the beginning when we launched Jetblack, part of the initiative was to start testing and building technology with the intent that it could be used in other ways, including applying it to other parts of our business. Over the past few years, we’ve explored a number of areas in conversational commerce, from Jetblack’s text-based ordering to voice ordering in [Walmart Grocery] Pickup and Delivery, all with the belief that this technology will be an important way Walmart serves customers in the future.”