Jetblack Could Change Walmart Shopper Stereotypes

Walmart’s tech incubator is out with its first experiment. The incubator, known as Store No. 8, just launched Jetblack, a concierge-style service for requesting stuff and getting it really quickly.

To shop with Jetblack, first you need an invite. Right now the service is limited to some customers in Manhattan and Brooklyn who are part of an eight-month pilot program restricted to buildings with a doorman, though that will soon expand and a waitlist is available now. The service is $50 a month — considerably less than some adjacent competitors, while considerably more than Amazon Prime — and promises same-day delivery.

Jetblack is focusing on “time-strapped urban parents” seeking “more efficient ways to shop for themselves and their families.” To request something, Jetblack members send a text message and will receive product recommendations sent back in text. Those recommendations are culled from Walmart and Jet.com but also from specialty retailers locally.

That means any product request is fair game and “sourcing a specific beauty cream from a member’s favorite local boutique, curating custom Easter baskets and delivering them once the kids are asleep and rushing beach essentials to a family on vacation” are all within the realm of Jetblack fulfillments.

“Consumers are looking for more efficient ways to shop for themselves and their families without having to compromise on product quality,” said Jetblack co-founder and CEO Jenny Fleiss, formerly of Rent the Runway.

“With Jetblack, we have created an entirely new concept that enables consumers to get exactly what they need through the convenience of text messaging and the freedom of a nearly unlimited product catalogue.”

Sources: eMarketer Retail  TechCrunch

Why It’s Hot

In retail and e-commerce, competition is hot around convenience. The pilot is interesting because (1) New Yorkers have opposed Walmart retail spaces in the past and (2) New Yorkers are already getting the best of same-day shipping/delivery in so many areas — so they expect it/are used to it — so they need it, but will they care about Walmart’s offering?

 

Amazon is taking a photo of your front door to show you where your package is

Amazon is delivering more than just your packages these days — it is also delivering photos. As part of the company’s efforts to make it even easier for you to receive your online orders, Amazon has taken to taking photos of your doorway to show exactly where your packages are being deposited. This will hopefully cut down on customer confusion, and also serves as photographic evidence of the successful delivery of your precious cargo.Amazon’s new picture-taking practice might also allow delivery folks to leave packages in more inconspicuous spots, like behind a bush or in a flower pot, as USA Today notes. Given the rise in package stealers, having a safe and somewhat surprising place to put your packages may not be such a bad idea and being able to document where that place is makes things easier.The new service is called Amazon Logistics Photo on Delivery and according to a company spokesperson, is “one of many delivery innovations we’re working on to improve convenience for customers.” Amazon Logistics in and of itself is one of those delivery innovations — it’s an Amazon-owned delivery network that is completely separate from other delivery services like FedEx or UPS. And while the Photo on Delivery program has been rolling out in batches for the last six months, it’s becoming more widespread. Now, folks who receive packages in the Seattle, San Francisco, and northern Virginia metro areas will likely be receiving photographic notifications of their delivery’s safe arrival.

 Of course, if the thought of someone taking a photo of your property doesn’t really sit all that well with you, don’t worry — Amazon is giving you a way to opt out of the feature, too. Simply head over to the Amazon website and navigate to the help and customer service tab. From there, you should be able to tell Amazon folks not to take an unapproved photo (assuming the photo-taking option is even available to you). But if you’re interested in seeing exactly where your packages are at the end of the day, Photo on Delivery may be the feature you have been waiting for.
Why Its Hot
Could this be data collection disguised as innovation? Or a way to cut down on false claims of lost packages and package stealing? In any case, I have always wanted my packages to be more inconspicuously placed and now they can be. Plus, why not gameify it? “Alexa, where’s my package”?

The flying supermarket

German airline Lufthansa has partnered with an online supermarket so passengers can shop for groceries on their flight home and avoid returning to an empty fridge.

Passengers on long-haul flights can use Lufthansa’s in-flight internet, FlyNet, to access Rewe’s online delivery service and shop for groceries. Passengers can then select a delivery date and the food will arrive at their home (provided the address is in Germany) in a cool box. They are also planning to trial this in the US next year

The trial began on 1 October and will run until 1 December. For the first six weeks of the trial, the service will be available on long-haul flights to Düsseldorf, Frankfurt and Munich. In the second six weeks, the service will be available on long-haul flights that have those three cities as the final destination.

Why it’s hot
From plane to home at just the right moment. Not only they deliver to your home but you can choose the exact time you want it to be delivered to your address.

The idea came from a customer survey where people said they want duty free products to b delivered home

Source: FutureTravelExperience.com

Walmart Puts Its Eggs in a Time-Saving Basket: Grocery Pickup

In today’s installment of the the ongoing food/convenience/price/partnership saga…

Seeking an edge against Amazon, Walmart is pushing a service that delivers your order to your car. Customers never have to step inside the store.

A personal shopper is something you might expect at Bergdorf Goodman or a boutique on Madison Avenue.

Not at the Walmart on Route 42 in Turnersville, N.J.

But that’s where you will find Joann Joseph and a team of Walmart workers each day, filling up shopping carts with boxes of Honeycomb cereal, Cheez-Its and salted peanuts.

The customers select their groceries online, and then the shoppers pick the items off the store shelves and deliver them to people when they arrive in the parking lot. Customers never have to step inside the store.

“It’s about saving people time,” Ms. Joseph said as she helped load groceries into the back of a minivan one morning.

Walmart, which is one of the largest food retailers in the United States, sees grocery pickup as a way to marry its e-commerce business with its gigantic network of stores — a goal that has eluded many other retailers. The company started ramping up the service two years ago, and it is now available in about 1,000 of Walmart’s 4,699 stores across the country.

The initiative is the latest salvo in Walmart’s retail battle with Amazon, and the centerpiece of its strategy to gain the upper hand in the pursuit of consumers looking to streamline their food shopping.

Many retailers are focused on new ways to deliver groceries to people’s homes — particularly in big cities. Walmart is betting big on the millions of Americans in suburban and rural areas who drive everywhere. The company is trying to make ordering groceries online and then picking them up in your car as seamless as a fast-food drive-through.

Amid this heated competition, Walmart has been experimenting with different ways to get an edge. In a few cities, it works with Uber to deliver groceries to homes.

And last month, Walmart said it would begin testing a home-delivery service in which a worker loads the food into the refrigerator, even when no one is home. The customer can watch the process remotely from a home security camera and track when the delivery worker enters and leaves the house.

While these initiatives are limited to only a few states, the company’s grocery pickup is widespread. Walmart is betting that a big part of the country (“from Scranton to Sacramento,” one Walmart executive said) is more of a drive-through than delivery culture.

Source (and interesting longer article): NY Times

Why It’s Hot

This is business-model interesting! There is a lot going on in the grocery industry to deliver on customer demand for convenience. Walmart, as king of retail, needs to innovate while ensuring that they can maintain their fundamental model and prices. Fresh Direct, then UberEATs then Amazon + Whole Foods — create interesting pressures. Will Walmart stay ahead?

Supermarket Chain Uses Food Waste For Fuel In Delivery Trucks

British supermarket chain, Waitrose, already a leader in sustainability practices, is now using biomethane gas (provided by CNG Fuels) from food waste to power its delivery trucks. Similar to the efficiency efforts in food distribution of Norway supermarket delivery trucks, Waitrose trucks can travel up to 500 hundred miles on a batch of vegetables.

Consider this: in the United States, commercial trucks only get six miles to the gallon of gasoline, and we throw away 40 percent of our food waste per year. Quieter and more cost efficient, the Waitrose trucks pose a convincing model not only for other food purveyors (like fast food chains), but also industries that rely on trucks for distribution.

Source: PSFK

Why It’s Hot

Sustainability is key for brands today — because more and more consumers are rallying around brands that care about causes, and care about the greater good. It becomes really interesting when a brand leans on technology to erase it’s own footprint. Imagine the impact if every brand and everyone was challenged to do the same?

Cassie, the ostrich bot

Bipedal robots have been a tough ask for engineers. Creating a bot that’s steady, self-balancing, and able to adapt to uneven terrain (one of the main advantages of going bipedal in the first place!) is a tough ask. But, as this newly unveiled bot from Agility Robotics proves, we’re getting good at it.

Like ostriches (and humans), Cassie has three degrees of freedom in its hips and flexible, powered ankles, but knees that only flex one way. This creates not only a natural gait, but a way to steer that’s similar to our own. As with ATRIAS, quick and careful placement of the feet makes Cassie resistant to slips, stumbles, and the occasional malicious grad student.

Why it’s hot?
Cassie can go pretty much anywhere humans can. Rocky ground? Stairs? It could be used to make search-and-rescue bots; to help improve prosthetic limbs or exoskeletons; and, could also perform dangerous jobs like nuclear plant inspection. If the bots become cheap enough, it can deliver packages, and if you’re busy, why not send Cassie to the store?

 

Uber delivers

Two announcement this week about Uber expanding their territory:

1. UberEats has officially launched in four cities, including the Barcelona and Los Angeles trial areas as well as two new burgs, Chicago and New York City and that promises to deliver meals to customers in 10 minutes or less.

Uber drivers will go to certain approved restaurants, pick up several bags of a single kind of food — say a special sandwich, or a gourmet salad – and then deliver it to anyone who has requested it from an Uber app. Uber will offer a rotating menu of select items from a handful of restaurants in Chicago and New York and charges a flat delivery fee of $3 and $4, respectively, which goes directly to the drivers.

2.  TechCrunch has uncovered documents revealing that Uber is currently testing a system where high-end retailers can use Uber vehicles to make same-day deliveries to impatient customers. According to the site’s sources, Neiman Marcus, Louis Vuitton and Tiffany’s are all in discussions to sign up when the program launches. It looks as if the eventual goal is that all Uber drivers will be able to take both human passengers and commercial cargo, with all of the information routed through the same mobile app.

TechCrunch goes on to speculate that Uber could be aiming to create a rival to Amazon and eBay that leverages the fact that local stores have stock available on shelves. That way, prospective buyers can spot an item, order it and know that it’ll be transported across town in an instant.

Sources: Mashable,  Engaget

Why It’s Hot: Uber has been a company to watch — what will they do next? These expansions make a lot of sense given their core capability, and show an interesting understanding of the urban market.

Beer on tap: New app summons Bud Light to your door

AB InBev is waging war on the beer run with a new app that lets drinkers have Bud Light delivered to their doors.

The Bud Light Button is only available to drinkers in Washington, D.C., and promises beer within one hour of ordering.

AB InBev has partnered with a third-party beer delivery service Klink to use independent offices to deliver up to 100 cases of beer. The app uses credit-card details for payment and, presumably, to ensure the buyer is over 21 years old.

Along with beer delivery, AB InBev is looking to inspire ‘YOLO’ moments with extra ‘Up for Whatever’ experiences. The idea is to throw surprise parties for customers picked at random, to match with the brand’s tagline: “The perfect beer for whatever happens”.

 Why It’s Hot:

“Whatever, whenever” seems to be a trendy campaign for beer lately, with Heineken operating under a similar messaging strategy.

In the age of Uber and Seamless (plus alcohol delivery services spouting up left and right), it makes sense that a brand would want to be front and center of the “get it now” Millennial need. However, I’m sure there are other services that will deliver a variety of beverages for a party — why would someone want just Bug Light? I guess we will see!