Jennifer Fleiss has a remarkable background in inventing new ways for consumers to shop. She co-founded Rent the Runway, a business that transformed the retail industry by making designer clothing rentals a convenient and accessible luxury experience for millions of women. She then co-founded Jetblack a year and a half ago, and currently serves as CEO. Jetblack operates within Walmart‘s startup incubator, Store No. 8.
“After more than eight years at Rent the Runway, I set out to begin a new journey to change the way consumers shop more broadly by leveraging conversational commerce,” says Fleiss.
Jetblack is an entirely new shopping concept that enables consumers to get exactly what they need through the convenience of text messaging and the freedom of a nearly unlimited product catalog. Fleiss says the service is meant to make the shopping experience more “efficient and delightful.”
“My work is embedded into my daily life and I’m constantly using my own life experiences to think of creative solutions,” says Fleiss. “At the core of each of the companies I founded, identifying with the end consumer and constantly gut-checking innovation against real customer feedback has been the key to success and longevity.”
RIS recently had the pleasure of recognizing Skeen’s contribution to retail by naming her to the “Top Women in Retail Tech 2019” list. The following is an exclusive Q&A with the innovative retail exec:
Q&A with Jennifer Fleiss, Co-Founder, CEO, JETBLACK
RIS: What new and emerging technology have you and your team recently deployed that helps set your organization apart?
Jennifer Fleiss:Consumers today are busier than ever, and they’re looking to technology to help simplify everyday life. The best solutions not only find them ways to save money, but save them time as well. We’ve been able to respond to this new need by leveraging text and voice – to create a totally new e-commerce experience. Our membership based service enables consumers to offload their shopping needs across virtually all categories – from reordering laundry detergent and paper towels, to getting curated gift or beauty recommendations, customers can ask for anything and get the right thing, quickly.
RIS: What were the strategic objectives of this technology and are there any success metrics you can share?
Jennifer Fleiss:Jetblack launched with the belief that conversational commerce – or the ability to shop through text messaging, online chat or voice – will power commerce in the future. Jetblack combines the convenience of e-commerce with the customized attention of a personal assistant — using a combination of artificial intelligence practices and expertise from professional buyers across the home, health, parenting, fashion and wellness categories, as well as parents themselves.
This year, we developed a Beta product that found great success with our founding members using a new text-based platform and unique combination of human and artificial intelligence (AI) recommendations, which we then launched publicly on May 31st, 2018.
Our signature combination of artificial intelligence and the customized attention of trained experts has enabled Jetblack members to find the best products for them. For example rather than recommending top-rated and most frequently purchased strollers, a Jetblack retail expert considers human elements like if the consumer lives on cobblestone streets and whether their child might need to nap in the stroller. Jetblack AI recommendation engines learn over time to anticipate real-time changes, such as suggesting larger clothes as children age, understanding brand preferences, and storing key information on specific product preferences, giftable moments, and key addresses. Once an item has been ordered once, it is available for clickfree shopping wherein a customer can place an order just by texting the product ID.
Since our launch, the demand to join Jetblack has been high and the brand continues to see increased frequency and breadth of member shopping. What we have heard from our founding members is that texting…