The head of Walmart's invite-only shopping service dishes on what wealthy customers want out of the future of shopping

jennifer fleissEvan Agostini/Invision/AP Images

  • Jennifer Fleiss, cofounder and CEO of Walmart's text-based personal-shopping service Jetblack, says that brands can win over wealthy customers through curation, experience-focused modes of shopping, and being able to "save the day."
  • Fleiss, who also cofounded Rent the Runway in 2009, spoke about trends among affluent consumers on Tuesday at the Business of Home's first Future of Home conference in New York City.
  • For Fleiss, Jetblack is about making shopping an experience "you want to Instagram" or at least talk about.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

For Jetblack CEO Jennifer Fleiss, staying "a few steps ahead" of e-commerce trends is key, especially when it comes to affluent consumers.

After all, wealthy urban customers are the target demographic for Jetblack, Walmart's members-only, text-based personal-shopping service. The e-commerce service costs members $50 a month and requires prospective shoppers to join a waitlist.

Jetblack remains exclusive, operating in New York City and only admitting customers who "are willing to commit to a new shopping lifestyle," Business Insider's Dennis Green previously reported.

Fleiss sat down with Business of Home editor-in-chief Kaitlin Petersen at the home industry outlet's first Future of Home conference in Manhattan on Tuesday. Their conversation delved into the preferences of affluent shoppers. Fleiss outlined a number of core trends, including unique and luxurious splurges, curated, experiential shopping, and retail services that are able to "save the day" in a pinch.

Fleiss cofounded Rent the Runway in 2009. In 2018, she took the helm at Jetblack, a subsidiary that grew up in Walmart's startup incubator Store No. 8.

Read more: The founder who sold Bonobos to Walmart says digital only brands are overrated, and pointed to Bonobos' success in Nordstrom stores as proof

"We're trying to drive more enjoyable, efficient shopping experiences for consumers," Fleiss said. "We are looking ahead five to seven years, so we're not just thinking about what people want today."

According to Fleiss, securing the loyalty of wealthier shoppers isn't as simple as offering luxury goods like Gucci bags and $50 Aesop soap, although it's important to mix those more exclusive items into more standard merchandise offerings.

The CEO said that her company is constantly thinking about how to create a shopping experience "that feels somewhat enjoyable and emotionally connected," adding that it should be "something you want to Instagram or talk about."

At Jetblack, that also means curating merchandise based on data gathered around a consumer's preferences, to avoid inundating members with thousands of products.

Fleiss said it also means becoming a service that's able to swoop in with reliable and customizable deliveries. She cited the examples of delivering a last-minute, gift-wrapped present to the birthday party of your child's classmate, or an instance when Jetblack supplied a rain-soaked dinner event with umbrellas.

"I love when we can save the day for customers," she said.

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