The news: Walmart is testing an SMS-assisted ecommerce tool called “Walmart Text to Shop,” in an expansion of its conversational commerce functionality, the company announced last Thursday.
Why it could backfire: Walmart has tried—and failed—to launch text shopping before. It launched a shopping service called Jetblack in 2018, a $50-a-month subscription that let customers text in orders to be fulfilled same- or next-day.
Why it could succeed: Text to Shop is free and more broadly applicable than Jetblack.
More broadly, voice shopping is rapidly gaining popularity. Juniper Research estimates that worldwide voice-assisted ecommerce sales will hit $4.6 billion this year—and then more than quadruple to $19.4 billion by 2023.
Like voice shopping, shopping via SMS and other forms of messaging is conversational—customers don’t feel like they’re interacting with a machine. Given how well voice shopping is doing, messaging makes sense as the next frontier.
Why it matters: Text to Shop, like Voice Order, could open up a treasure trove of consented, first-party data.