What’s the ‘STORY’ with Jet.com’s grocery store?

Discussion
Photo: STORY, Jet.com
May 11, 2017

It was nearly a year ago today that reports surfaced on Jet.com’s pilot of fresh grocery deliveries in communities along the East Coast. The latest news is that Jet, since being acquired by Walmart, is opening its first physical store location, albeit a temporary location, in New York City.

Jet’s store will be housed inside STORY, a 2,000 square-foot retail concept founded by Rachel Shechtman, a former brand consultant for Kraft and TOMS shoes. STORY changes what is sold within its walls every four to eight weeks. Ms. Shechtman’s concept aspires to take the point of view of a magazine while constantly changing in the manner of an art gallery.

Jet’s, billed as Fresh STORY, will sell a number of items available through Jet including organic blueberries and carrots. These and other foods will be displayed with complementary items sold on the site such as ceramic bowls and a cooler with a built-in blender. There will be special guest appearances during Jet’s run, including chef Mario Batali, sharing food stories and recipes, and Bobbi Brown, sharing skin care tips.

Walmart, Jet’s parent, and Amazon.com, its larger e-commerce rival, have invested heavily in promoting their respective online grocery businesses.

On Walmart’s fourth quarter earnings call, CEO Doug McMillon told analysts that the company has benefited from its investment in online grocery. While maintaining that the company’s supercenters are “the best retail format in the world,” he said Walmart would continue to leverage this unique asset with in-store pickup, online grocery and other initiatives.

Amazon, which has invested heavily in its AmazonFresh home delivery service, recently opened its first two physical pickup locations in Seattle. The concept known as AmazonFresh Pickup, which launched in beta mode to Amazon employees, will next roll out as an exclusive, free perk to Prime members. Orders placed by customers can be ready in as quickly as 15 minutes after being placed, according to Amazon.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you think Jet.com is looking to accomplish with its pop-up inside STORY in New York City? Do you think the pop-up will lead to the opening of permanent physical locations?

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Braintrust
"If Jet.com is smart it will continue to find innovative ways to meet its customers wherever they are and however they want to be met."
"If Walmart fully succeeds with recent marketing endeavors, we will soon be talking about Jet without mentioning the competition."
"I see this as maybe 10% test and learning and 90% marketing."

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15 Comments on "What’s the ‘STORY’ with Jet.com’s grocery store?"


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Chris Petersen, PhD.
Guest

What does Jet.com expect to gain? In a word, EXPERIENCE. Amazon’s innovation strength is the willingness to fail rapidly. Said another way, they rapidly innovate because they test more concepts than any other retailer.

Walmart’s core category strength and volume is in packaged goods and consumables. Walmart’s core market strength is in the ‘burbs of middle of America. This is the perfect kind of outside-the-box test that will stretch Walmart’s thinking and capabilities, as well as create new customer insights.

The future of retail is no longer about online and stores. Success is now about how to engage consumers, especially Millennials. There is no better environment right now for that kind of test than the STORY format in NYC.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
BrainTrust

It sounds like Jet.com is experimenting with the concept of a physical store. Experimenting within the confines of an already established physical store is even lower risk than a standalone pop-up store. However, it is really only helpful if this location draws your typical customers. A pop-up store provides more flexibility on location but would be a lot more work in terms of creating the infrastructure. Test results should provide some insights to aid in Jet.com’s planning.

Anne Howe
Guest

This sounds to me like a great test to gain visibility and begin to shift consumer perception about what experiences in grocery retail might look like in the future. They will clearly create memorable stories that will have resonance and spread. And Rachel’s concept site is brilliant.

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust
First of all, a minor confession. I am a huge fan of STORY. It’s one of my “go to” examples anytime I hear people talking about how boring brick-and-mortar retail is getting. That said, the question is an interesting one. The pop-up may help spread the Jet.com story among New York hipsters and may even make a few of them think a bit differently about Walmart. It’s bound to get Jet.com some good, free publicity — just look at this discussion. As to whether or not the pop-up will be followed by more permanent physical stores, I think this is getting to be a tired question. Successful retailers will balance a broad palate of tools to engage customers on their own terms. Some will be digital. Some will be physical. Some will be highly personalized. Others will be driven by AI. We need to get over our obsession that retailing is some kind of binary forced choice. If Jet.com is smart it will continue to find innovative ways to meet its customers wherever they are… Read more »
Lee Kent
Guest

Hear, hear! It couldn’t have been said better. I too love Story and I think this is a great move for Jet and Walmart to show who they really are. For my 2 cents.

Art Suriano
Guest

Jet is looking for how they can attract and please the customer. With so much competition and so many new ideas, some will work and many will not. So this experiment may prove successful for them and, if so, you will see more permanent physical stores.

Online grocery shopping and home delivery is still relatively new and growing rapidly. However, grocers who offer home delivery have a high cost and lose out with customers’ impulse buying. The fact that Jet has many unique items in-store gives their customer a chance to browse and make impulsive purchasing decisions while coming to pick up their groceries ordered online. So it has many possibilities.

Jasmine Glasheen
BrainTrust

Trendiness, buzz, headlines … this move puts Jet in the headlines and generates excitement surrounding the brand. Jet is taking a page from Amazon’s playbook and getting us theorizing as to their next move. If Walmart fully succeeds with recent marketing endeavors, we will soon be talking about Jet without mentioning the competition.

Kenneth Leung
BrainTrust

Jet.com can go into places that Walmart can’t go because of its brand positioning. A pop-up store gives Jet.com and Walmart experience and data on how to operate a store in a high-density area without the baggage. This is a nice move by Jet.com and Walmart to continue innovation and testing which is needed to compete with Amazon in the omnichannel world.

Brandon Rael
BrainTrust

It may or may not lead to physical locations. What Jet.com is hoping to achieve is brand recognition, loyalty beyond an online presence and to connect with new customers. Jet.com is making an outstanding strategic move with this pop-up inside STORY.

Retail pop-ups are a modern interpretation of what the flea market or marketplace at the center of town used to be. Here smaller fashion brands or emerging online business can take a very calculated risk, experiment and innovate without the significant burden of a long-term store lease. What is old has become new again, and pop-ups are an outstanding way to meet the needs of an experienced focused, digitally native consumer.

NYC has become the ideal cosmopolitan location for curated and transporting experiences that retail pop-ups offer. While the retail landscape along the golden shopping mile on 5th Avenue remains relatively intact (despite a few store closures), the retail pop-up revolution is alive and well across Manhattan, Brooklyn, etc.

Paula Rosenblum
BrainTrust

Funny, isn’t it? That for all the talk about “the store is dead” pure-plays still want to dabble in them?

This is another extension of Walmart reaching out to a new market, to new customers via a different format with a different name. It’s also a lot cheaper and has a better ROI than painting public buses purple (yes, they did that in NYC).

I think it’s a great idea.

Ricardo Belmar
BrainTrust
Ricardo Belmar
Retail Transformation Thought Leader, Advisor, & Strategist
5 years 1 month ago

Jet.com is accomplishing a few things with the pop-up inside NYC’s STORY. First, it brings them exposure to city-dwelling customer’s whereas their parent, Walmart is stronger in the suburbs than in urban areas. Second, it’s getting them media attention in a manner at which Amazon is so successful. This is a great way to experiment, try something new, see how it performs and then decide what to do with the experience learned, iterate and innovate something new all over again. This is a great variation on the Amazon way of doing things!

Thomas Becker
Guest
5 years 1 month ago

I am going to go with this being a smart promotional event. If Jet were to be trying to gain experience by using STORY, I think we would all have to say the learning would be limited. STORY is not a broadly replicable approach and is in the most unique market on the planet. I have long campaigned that trying to be “cool” over “consumer-centric” is not sustainable in the long run. I trust that Jet is sophisticated and using this option as a strategic play to generate awareness among Manhattanites who may be inclined to use Amazon or Fresh Direct.

Jeff Miller
Guest

I see this as maybe 10% test and learning and 90% marketing. Pop Up stores and flagship stores are almost always about marketing and PR and not sales. Jet.com still does not have what I consider to be real “brand awareness” that it needs, and that is why at the time of the Walmart purchase they were spending $25,000,000 a month on advertising.

Sterling Hawkins
BrainTrust

Jet.com is testing the waters. New format experience, customer receptivity information and online/offline metrics will all feed into the corporate knowledge pool. It looks like Walmart is trying to move forward, faster with innovation and opening a Jet.com pop-up at STORY taps them into a new world to learn from.

Dave Bruno
BrainTrust

For Jet, this is a great idea. The marketing value for them is undeniable, as it allows their brand to be enriched by the STORY cache. For STORY, however, I worry. I am a huge fan of STORY, and Jet.com feels antithetical to their brand ethos, and may do some long-term damage if people interpret this edition to be a less-than-organic extension of their vision.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"If Jet.com is smart it will continue to find innovative ways to meet its customers wherever they are and however they want to be met."
"If Walmart fully succeeds with recent marketing endeavors, we will soon be talking about Jet without mentioning the competition."
"I see this as maybe 10% test and learning and 90% marketing."

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