In what may be the most bizarre launch so far this year, Walmart has launched a premium shopping service using an unlikely mix of old and new technology …


‘Premium’ and ‘Walmart’ already seem odd words to include in the same sentence, but the company’s approach is even stranger. CNN describes the old-tech part.

The company is launching Jetblack, a new personal shopping service that lets customers order items via a text message with same-day or next-day delivery […]

Walmart (WMT) is positioning the service for “time-strapped urban parents” that delivers items from Walmart, Jet, Saks Fifth Avenue and other New York shops. Shoppers can request specific items or ask for suggestions and a Jetblack agent will offer “curated recommendations.”

However, the company’s website also has a video (below) featuring voice ordering via some Jetblack-branded earphones. Kind of like … an inconvenient version of a smart speaker. Amazon has long offered instant online ordering by telling its Echo speakers what you need, or pressing a Dash Button.

As with Amazon, there’s no minimum spend with Jetblack, but you will pay a hefty $50/month membership fee for the privilege – and the store won’t deliver groceries or alcohol.

Jetblack has been in beta in Manhattan, and is now rolling out across New York City – though you have to join a waitlist. There’s no word yet on where or when it might be available next.

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