The initiative, led by Rent the Runway’s co-founder Jenny Fleiss, is being tested in Manhattan.
Code Eight, a stealthy personal-shopping startup incubated inside of Walmart, has rebranded itself as Jetblack, Recode has learned.
In job listings, the service is described as a “members-only personal shopping and concierge service that combines the convenience of e-commerce with the customized attention of a personal assistant.”
Visitors to Jetblack.com are greeted by a landing page that says, “Nice work, you found us!”
“Jetblack is currently in beta in Manhattan,” the site says. It gives visitors an option to request early access.
A Walmart spokesman declined to comment.
The startup is being led by Rent the Runway co-founder Jenny Fleiss, who joined Walmart last year to lead the initiative. Since then, Walmart has revealed little about the project, but Recode reported details on the service in December.
A new Walmart subsidiary, called Code Eight, has recently started testing a personal shopping service for “busy NYC moms,” according to multiple sources, with the goal of letting them get product recommendations and make purchases simply through text messaging.
The target customer of Code Eight is described in an online job listing as a “high net worth urban consumer” — translation: A rich city dweller — certainly not the historical sweet spot for Walmart’s main business.
Household items are delivered for free within 24 hours; other purchases are delivered within two business days. Returns are picked up for free at a customer’s apartment building or house.
Jetblack marks Walmart’s latest attempt to appeal to new types of customers who typically wouldn’t have shopped at Walmart stores or through Walmart’s website. Jet.com, which Walmart acquired for $3 billion in 2016, is now being positioned to appeal to millennial consumers who live in big cities — not traditionally Walmart’s demographic.
Under Jet founder Marc Lore, Walmart has also acquired higher-end men’s fashion brand Bonobos. And last week, Walmart announced that upscale department store Lord & Taylor, which is struggling, would soon launch a fashion portal on Walmart.com.
Lore, who now runs all of Walmart’s e-commerce efforts in the U.S., had the idea for a higher-end personal shopping service inside of Jet long before the Walmart acquisition — even calling it Jetblack internally for years, sources say.
Now it looks like the company has stuck to the idea of the Jetblack name even though there is not currently any obvious association with Jet.com. If the New York City test is successful and the service expands, though, perhaps it would look for added distribution through Jet.com.
Jetblack is one of several projects being run under a Walmart startup incubator called Store No. 8. Others include Project Kepler, a startup working to build cashierless stores similar to Amazon Go that Recode previously uncovered, as well as a virtual reality initiative.