Walmart betting on Shopping Via Text

Mar 13, 2019

As the first big company to emerge from Store No 8, the Walmart tech incubator, JetBlack is setting itself as a leader in the next area of shopping “conversational commerce”. Jenny Fleiss is the co-founder at Jetblack, and she brings a lot to the table after her success with “Rent the Runway”.

It’s an interesting venture that does not fit into a tidy box, and many ways it does appear to be a lab, running experiments on m-commerce behavior. They charge $50 per month, and there is an extensive on boarding process that creates a personal profile of the shopper. The texting service, or text shopping service, allows members to text what they need. Then agents make personalized recommendations based on the shoppers profile.

Apparently the ambitions do not go beyond the NY metro area at this time, and curiously, they consider it testing ground for conversational commerce.

So what exactly is conversational commerce? In essence, it’s a prediction that buyers of the future will want to interact with a personalized service, either artificial intelligence or human operated systems, that cuts through all the clutter of shopping online. It’s a one to one conversation about shopping regardless of platform that relies on a chat bot or human powered intelligence that makes shopping faster and better.

Walmart believes that people may want to use text message as a preferred channel for this type of conversational commerce rather than various messenger programs or smart speaker programs. Text Message Shopping has several advantages and it seems to be more intuitive for users, according to Walmart’s early indicators as they test the waters. One clear advantage is that a texting service can send images of the products through a known and easy to use channel.

Analyst are predicting that the future of internet interaction will go away from the traditional search bar, which will be replaced by various new interactions like smart speakers, bots, and enhanced text message applications. RCS, or Rich Card Service, will be a game changer for the text message conversations happening between business and customers.

So what’s the future for Walmart and their incubator start up Jetblack? It’s not clear exactly what plans they have, but for the time being, they are collecting millions of text shopping conversations, and this will aid the development of algorithms of the future shopping bots.

Last words – Jetblack has a marketing tagline – Need it, Text it, Get it.

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