There are a lot of things people think when they think Walmart, but it is unlikely that the term “personal shopper” is jumping first to anyone’s mind. Personal shoppers, after all, are more strongly associated with high-end retail experiences than they are with a store best known for its “every day low prices.”
But Walmart is just full of surprises, which is how it ended up hiring for a New York City-based “highly personalized shopping experience” run by the former co-founder of Rent the Runway, Jennifer Fleiss, according to reports from NPR, with an eye toward attracting a bigger and more affluent customer base.
“Walmart really wants to change its image,” said NPR’s Alina Selyukh. “The company’s known for its low prices, but now, trying to remain the world’s largest retailer, Walmart is branching out. Its latest test is a personal shopping service. The company doesn’t divulge any details, but it has posted jobs that describe a personalized concierge for everyday shopping. They’re calling the project Code Eight.”
The goal, according to reports, is to capture more affluent customers by offering a wide range of concierge experiences, aimed at simplifying the customer’s life. That plan, however, has attracted skepticism.
“I think that the biggest problem they’re going to face with this is the high-net-worth shopper is not a Walmart shopper,” noted personal shopping business owner Jessica Leila Adnani. “I have actually never been into Walmart for anything client-related.”
But then, that is sort of the point for Walmart: turning those non-Walmart shoppers, by definition, into Walmart shoppers by offering a higher-end service. And, although Adnani told NPR she has her doubts, and that they are strongly held, she is deeply curious to see what exactly Walmart is building — and if the company can actually get it to work.