- After testing the feature last year, Walmart has launched a free Text to Shop functionality for iOS and Android users, according to a Wednesday blog post from Vice President of Conversational Commerce at Store No. 8 Dominique Essig. Store No. 8 is Walmart’s retail startup incubator, which launched its first project in 2017.
- Connected to a user’s Walmart account, the Text to Shop function knows what a customer’s usual items are. Shoppers can text the name of a general item — such as “cereal” — and the retailer will add the brand and type typically ordered to the user's cart, allowing shoppers to swap it, change the quantity or remove it.
- Walmart’s Text to Shop function also allows shoppers to check out their carts via text or in the Walmart app. Customers can also schedule a time for pickup or use delivery.
While Text to Shop is technically a new feature offered by Walmart, it isn’t the company’s first foray into text-based shopping.
In 2018, the retailer started beta testing a higher-end service called Jetblack. Jetblack was a text-based concierge and shopping service marketed toward busy, wealthy customers in cities. Onboarded with an initial 10-minute phone call (and potentially a home visit to further personalize the experience), customers were able to text questions and requests to Jetblack that ranged from support for gift ideas to placing general household orders. A mixture of artificial intelligence and human knowledge was utilized for the service.
In 2020, however, the service was shut down by Walmart. At the time, a Walmart spokesperson said this was part of an effort to move the service from an “incubation” period to Walmart’s broader organization. The spokesperson noted that following its discontinuation, it would focus on scaling the concept.
Two years later, Walmart’s Text to Shop appears to be making good on that promise.
The new functionality doesn’t appear to be marketed only to higher-income shoppers, but instead is focused on providing convenience for any Walmart customer who has an account.
“We know that for busy families and young professionals, finding opportunities to slow down and live in the moment is a priority,” Walmart’s Essig said in a statement. “That’s what inspired Text to Shop.”
Mobile commerce continues to evolve as more shoppers are using their phones to engage with brands. On Thanksgiving Day last month, 55% of online sales were through mobile, according to Adobe Analytics. This was an all-time high, increasing 8.3% from last year. And on Black Friday, another record was hit with mobile commerce accounting for 48% of online sales compared to 44% in 2021.