Walmart Ceasing Jet Black Service, Takes Operation In House

Jet black will make its last deliveries to New Yorkers on February 21 as the operation moves from the Walmart Store No8 incubator into the main business.

In a blog post, Scott Eckert, svp/next generation retail and principal, Store No8, characterized Jet black as graduating from the incubator to the larger company. The first initiative launched by Store No8, Jet black follows the InHome operation— which picks, delivers and places groceries in the home refrigerators of its customers— from incubation into the Walmart mainstream and, within that, to the customer organization, which is charged with managing shopper experience.

Eckert pointed out that a key reason Walmart launched Jet black in 2018 was to test and build technology with the intent that it be used in diverse ways, including applying it to other parts of the main business in the future.

Now, Walmart is taking what it learned from Jet black in the two years since its foundation, including how customers respond when offered the opportunity to order by text and what kind of items they purchase through texting, and evaluating the information. Walmart determined to discontinue the service for members in New York City, the single market where it operates, and focus on how to leverage the company’s infrastructure to make conversational-style commerce scalable, using the text-based Jet black experience as a case in point.

Speculation about how Walmart would proceed with Jet black has circulated for several months, including rumors that the operation would be sold. In October of last year, Jet black changed up its leadership, with a founder and then CEO Jenny Fleiss stepping back from everyday operations and taking up responsibilities in the customer organization. Another executive involved in the initial development, Nate Faust, Walmart svp/logistics, took the helm at the time.

Store No8 remains in operation. In the blog post, Eckert stated: “Since launching Store No8 three years ago, one of our primary goals has been to launch new capabilities that can grow and be fueled by the Walmart engine, eventually shaping how we serve customers in the future. They may not scale to everyone today, but rather lay the foundation for capabilities that we believe will have a big impact on how customers shop tomorrow.”

Eckert added that Walmart is only starting to explore how the capabilities under development at Store No8 can complement one another and work to enhance the customer experience.