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Walmart takes on Amazon with Jetblack, a $50-a-month concierge shopping service

Too busy to shop? Just text.

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Sean Hollister Senior Editor / Reviews
When his parents denied him a Super NES, he got mad. When they traded a prize Sega Genesis for a 2400 baud modem, he got even. Years of Internet shareware, eBay'd possessions and video game testing jobs after that, he joined Engadget. He helped found The Verge, and later served as Gizmodo's reviews editor. When he's not madly testing laptops, apps, virtual reality experiences, and whatever new gadget will supposedly change the world, he likes to kick back with some games, a good Nerf blaster, and a bottle of Tejava.
Sean Hollister
2 min read
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Jetblack

An Amazon Prime subscription costs $119 a year for free, fast shipping on everything you buy. Walmart's new Jetblack service costs $50 every month -- but you won't have to do the buying. It's a personal shopper service where you'll simply text a request to have Walmart fulfill your needs, by purchasing the item and shipping it to you -- generally same- or next-day delivery, according to the announcement.

It's launching today in New York City, starting in Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn, but only via invitation. There's a waitlist you can join at Jetblack's website.

According to the site, there are other perks to the concierge service too: Free gift wrapping, "handwritten gift cards," party favors, expert product recommendations and simple returns -- just text Jetblack and they'll return any unwanted items for you. You can also snap a pic of an item you'd like, and they say they'll find it. The website says Jetblack won't ship alcohol, prescription medicine or perishable foods, though.

The service seems to be particularly targeted at moms, calling itself "the easiest way for busy moms to shop." Another passage: "All of our products are researched, curated, and tested by real NYC moms you can trust."

While Jetblack tells CNET that household essentials will generally ship from Walmart and subsidiary Jet.com, other retailers like Saks Fifth Avenue, Pottery Barn and Blue Mercury will also be included. The company says it has plans to expand the service beyond NYC, but doesn't currently have an ETA.

In March, Walmart made a big push into online grocery delivery, and bought itself a front-row seat to India's e-commerce arena by buying a majority of Flipkart, both presumably to take on Amazon.

And to think we used to wonder whether Amazon could one day challenge Walmart.