By Victor Ochieng
Walmart spent $3 billion to acquire Jet.com, with the promise that Marc Lore was going to help the company develop a strategy that would attract new types of consumers for their products.
Clearly, there is something cooking in the kitchen for Walmart customers.
Now, the company has announced a subsidiary called Code Eight, which recently began testing an innovative shopping service targeting “busy NYC moms.” According to sources, the service seeks to help the women receive product recommendations and buy products through simple text messaging.
The customers Code Eight is targeting, as described in an online job listing, is "high net worth urban consumer," which can rightly be interpreted to mean a rich city resident not interested in the hustle and bustle experienced in the traditional shopping experience.
Customers ordering household items will receive them within 24 hours and such will be delivered for free. Other products are delivered within a span of two business days. Returns no longer have to worry customers as they're picked for free at their respective apartments or house.
But that's not all. Walmart's Store No. 8 is also reportedly working on another revolutionary project called Project Kepler. This aims to develop a kind of shopping that gives customers an in-store shopping experience using technologies like computer vision.
The main goal of the initiative, according to sources privy to what's cooking, is to create stores without cashiers, something akin to the futuristic Amazon Go store, which was disclosed to the public a year ago, but hasn't been rolled out.
Put together, the new initiatives Walmart is coming up with are a clear show that their traditional approach to selling products isn't working in the wake of online shopping that has swept the globe. It's a clear show of their vision in terms of the customers they're targeting and the kind of technology they seek to rope in to give their customers better experience.
But because the new ideas are still in their early stages of implementation, it's highly unlikely that the public will start enjoying them in the near future.
Even though Walmart made an earlier announcement that Rent the Runway co-founder Jennifer Fleiss had been tapped to head Code Eight, nothing much has since been revealed about the initiative.
Recode revealed that the service has plans of charging a membership fee, despite being enjoyed for free at this testing stage.
The categories being targeted now are health & beauty, household essentials and apparel/accessories." No details have been shared on whether or not the startup is getting its inventory from Walmart.