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Walmart Gives Shoppers a Text Option

New ‘Text to Shop’ service one more example of the retailer’s evolving people-centric strategy

By John Willkom

Walmart made a big announcement this week with the launch of “Text to Shop,” a new program that allows anyone with a account to place and manage orders or ask questions about products via text message.

The program is designed to work seamlessly for pickup or delivery orders and is completely free. Walmart’s goal is to strengthen one-to-one relationships with its shoppers by reaching them “no matter how she wants to engage,” said Dominique Essig, VP of Conversational Commerce, while discussing the program this week at Groceryshop in Las Vegas. You can learn more about Text to Shop here.

The Mars Agency’s take: This is another good example of meeting consumers where they are and providing a “concierge-like” service without fees. Walmart’s wants to cater to all shopper profiles and preferences: a shopper who normally places a weekly order via desktop computer may want to make additions on the way home from a trip, while a college student who lives on their mobile phone might consider this a natural extension of their preferred way to shop.

Whether it’s drone delivery, Walmart InHome straight-to-the refrigerator fulfillment, or driverless vehicle testing, Walmart is going to continue testing, seeing what sticks, and then refining services based on their massive database of shopper preferences and behavior.

Walmart and its peers kicked the term “retailer” to the curb years ago and instead are building people-centric ecosystems that aim to make life easier and more efficient. Whether it’s voice, text, in-app, social, connected TV, etc., buying (and advertising) will continue happening wherever an internet connection exists.

The question for brands is, how do you fit into the new model? Do different modalities naturally fit your brand better? And whether that answer is yes or no, how is your strategy evolving to create seamlessness, how are you showing up in AI recommendation engines; and how connected are you to key retailers like Walmart that will allow you to participate in new-to-market programming?

The questions of the future won’t always be answered by the solutions of the past. Does Text to Shop have staying power? We’ll certainly find out.


About the Author
John Willkom is SVP-Ecommerce at The Mars Agency, where he helps brands win in the ever-changing world of connected commerce. John has a passion for brand building and discovering “what’s next.”

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