Tech

Walmart’s new text service bypasses app, website to order stuff online

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Don't even think about going to a Walmart store to shop -- soon you'll be able to text your order.
Don’t even think about going to a Walmart store to shop — soon you’ll be able to text your order.

Image: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Walmart is trying out outsmart e-retailer Amazon with a new text-to-order service, Jetblack

Launching first in New York City, the service cooked up in Walmart’s tech incubator, Store No. 8, is aimed at “time-strapped” families that are too busy to browse for birthday presents, cleaning supplies, or toiletries online. Forget about physically going to a store — no way. Just text what you need.

Instead of searching for products on a mobile app or on a website, Jetblack is more of a text conversation — with a computer. You can text thoughts, ideas, musings, and the “personalized shopper” will come back with recommendations and reviews. You can even send over a picture and the Jetblack assistant will look for it. You can also text straightforward orders for when you know what you want.

Jetblack is supposed to offer quick turnaround with same-day or next-day delivery for most items, couriered straight to your door — no store pickups or anything. This is a Walmart service so it will source from Walmart (and Jet.com, which the retailer owns), but it will find things for you from other shopping outlets if necessary. 

It will roll out in other U.S. cities at a later date. A beta version was tested in New York earlier this year, but that beta has since closed. For now you can sign up for the waitlist to shop with the AI eventually. It’s a members-only service, so like Amazon Prime, you’ll have to be part of the club (and pay up) to take advantage. 

Those will be some pricey texts.

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