eCommerce

Walmart Tests Personal Shopping Via Text

In an attempt to attract new types of customers, a Walmart subsidiary, called Code Eight, has started testing a personal shopping service for “busy NYC moms.”

According to news from Recode, the target customer of Code Eight is described in an online job listing as a “high net worth urban consumer.”

The personal shopping service, which is currently focused on items in health and beauty, household essentials and the apparel/accessories categories, allows users to order products simply by texting a photo of them. Customers can also message with a general request for a type of product they need and leave it up to the service to pick the specific item for them.

It’s unknown if the products will be supplied through Walmart and its subsidiaries or from outside retailers.

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.

Walmart previously announced Rent the Runway Co-Founder Jennifer Fleiss was heading up Code Eight. While little has been revealed about the startup, Recode did learn that it plans to eventually charge a membership fee (current testers are using it for free).

One source also revealed that the Code Eight product has the appearance of an automated bot, but seems like a human is actually the one communicating on the other end of the message. However, that may change over time.

“[W]e set our sights on taking the lead in conversational commerce by leveraging machine learning, NLP and personalization algorithms,” a Code Eight job listing reads. NLP refers to natural language processing, which is how a computer turns a human’s spoken or written request into instructions it can process.

Walmart’s startup incubator, Store No. 8, is working on another project called Project Kepler, which is working toward reimagining the in-store shopping experience with the help of technologies like computer vision. Multiple sources said that one goal of the project is the creation of physical stores that would operate without checkout lines or cashiers.

Project Kepler is being led by Mike Hanrahan, the co-founder and former chief technology officer for Jet.com. It is located in Hoboken, N.J., where Jet is based.

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