As Amazon maps out a host of physical stores, one of its chief rivals is also spilling out into the real world.
Walmart-owned Jet.com opened a limited-time artisanal grocery and household accessory store in New York on Wednesday in a partnership with concept-based retailer Story.
The store will combine some of the e-commerce company’s tech prowess with Story’s chic decor and eclectic product assortment. The location will also host events featuring big names like celebrity chef Mario Batali and make-up mogul Bobbi Brown.
While the opening might invite comparisons to a chain of stores Amazon plans to launch through its burgeoning AmazonFresh grocery arm, Jet president Liza Landsman said the company has no plans to expand its brick-and-mortar footprint beyond the temporary storefront.
“[We] are not considering exploring brick-and-mortar at this time,” Landsman said in an email interview. “We saw this as a unique opportunity to bring everything that Jet fresh grocery has to offer to life in one place at one time and that was too good of a prospect to pass up.”
Even as online shopping growth pushes traditional retailers into dire straits, some e-commerce companies still see storefronts as a valuable way to create a more comprehensive shopping experience than the one customers get online.
Landsman says Jet sees the store as a way to showcase what the site has to offer in terms of fresh produce and other foods. She says the company’s custom-designed fresh-seal packaging and a proprietary algorithm that routes the most efficient path for deliveries set the company apart from its many competitors in the space.
“The curation you see in the store is representative of how we think about our categories and enabling our customers to enjoy their shopping trip on Jet,” Landsman said.
Marc Lore, now Walmart’s head of e-commerce, founded Jet in 2015 with his sights set on taking on Amazon. Walmart bought the startup about a year later, bolstering its online shopping business’s position as Amazon’s biggest threat in North America.
The new store comes as Jet’s parent company has been growing its online grocery delivery service at rapid clip in a bid to keep pace with Amazon.
Still, online sales remain a relatively small portion of the grocery market as a whole; the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that only around one percent of the category’s business occurs on the web.
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