Walmart, the world’s biggest brick-and-mortar retailer, today made an acquisition that speaks to its ongoing efforts to build out its e-commerce experience to better compete with Amazon. Today, the company announced that it acquired Aspectiva, a startup out of Israel whose AI-based technology analyses user-generated content, like customers’ product reviews, and combines it with a shopper’s browsing behavior to make product suggestions to shoppers both online and in stores.
The startup will be joining Store No 8, Walmart’s in-house incubation arm established in 2017 to help the company develop and roll out more innovative shopping experiences. Store No 8 most recently launched a VR shopping experience “startup” called Spatial&, and last year it started a closed beta Jetblack, a text-based shopping concierge service for “busy moms.”
It’s not clear yet whether this will mean Aspectiva will build a standalone service or work on tech that Walmart will roll out across its own stores both offline and online. You could see where Walmart might be able to incorporate its tech to make the shopping experience in both scenarios less static as the startup already works across both.
Some of its products include tech that analyses what in-store shoppers search for on their phones or in store apps while walking around, to suggest what to buy. Aspectiva also crunches product reviews to provide customer overviews to online browsers based on different features of a product, and it also creates comparison reports between different brands of the same product — all from “reading” feedback from other shoppers.
Terms of the deal have not been disclosed by the companies but we’re trying to find out. Aspectiva had raised around $4 million in funding from investors that included KDDI and Global Brain out of Japan, JVP, as well as strategic backers LivePerson and online skate shop Union Five, according to Pitchbook.
Aspectiva was co-founded by Eyal Hurwitz and Ezra Daya, two text analytics engineer alums from CRM company Nice Systems. It looks like the whole team will be joining Walmart, but will continue to be based in Tel Aviv, in its existing offices.
“Our team is extremely excited to be joining Store N° 8 and be part of Walmart’s most recent investment in Israel. Store N° 8’s record of innovation and of developing capabilities that will transform retail as we know it makes for the perfect environment to leverage Aspectiva’s technology throughout the shopping funnel,” said Ezra Daya, CEO of Aspectiva, in a statement.
In its efforts to source more innovation particularly for tackling newer frontiers in commerce, Walmart has been stretching its wings internationally. Last year, the company acquired most of Flipkart, which had been known as the “Amazon of India” (before Amazon doubled down on India, one of the world’s fastest-growing markets for e-commerce, to make sure that it would be the Amazon of India).
And Walmart has also been active in Israel. It’s a strategic investor in Team8, an incubator that conceives of, funds and builds startups in the country; it has a $250 million content JV with media company Eko; it is part of The Bridge, a tech accelerator that promotes Israeli startups; and last year its Indian subsidiary Flipkart acquired Upstream Commerce to help with its own recommendation and pricing algorithms.
“Aspectiva has developed incredibly sophisticated machine learning techniques and natural language processing capabilities, both of which are areas we believe will have profound impact on how customers will shop in the future. Israel is a hotbed of tech talent and innovation. We’re thrilled to join the growing community of entrepreneurs in Israel and see it expand within Aspectiva,” said Lori Flees, Principal of Store No 8, in a statement.