Walmart’s new search engine increased conversion rates says its global e-commerce CTO [Update: India to announce FDI in retail soon]

Retail giant Walmart on Tuesday said that the semantic search engine it launched last month has increased conversion rates by 10- 15 % on its online store Walmart.com. A handful of engineers from Bangalore were also part of the search analytics team that created the search engine christened Polaris.

Jeremy King, CTO, Walmart Global e-commerce

The engine was built by a team of 20 engineers from the @WalmartLabs, Jeremy King, CTO of Global e-Commerce at Walmart said. The search is based on “Social Genome,” a technology that captures large amounts of data generated on various platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Pintrest to second guess consumer behaviour.

The brick and mortar retailer, has been playing catch up with Amazon in the online world and trying to consolidate its various online properties into one consistent experience. “The project is the single biggest at Walmartlabs and employs nearly 100 people,” said King at a press conference in Bangalore.

Social genome was built by Kosmix, a company which was sold by Indian entrepreneurs Anand Rajaraman and Venky Harinarayan for $ 300 mn to the retail giant. Earlier in June, the duo who ran the 200 person technology unit at Walmart after quit. Walmart created @Walmartlabs, the unit which builds solutions for Walmart’s global e-commerce business through acquisitions and is now strengthening the team.

In April last year, the $ 444 bn retailer which has nearly 200 mn customers announced plans to expand operations of its technology team in Bangalore. The retailer wants to have a team of 200 members in India working for @WalmartLabs by the end of the year.

Walmart has also been trying to gain entry to the burgeoning Indian consumer market. However, current Indian regulations which protect local traders and shops do not allow foreign direct investment in multi brand retailing. Walmart operates a joint venture with Bharti to sell goods in India.

India to announce FDI in multibrand retail soon

According to latest reports, Indian government, is set to announce an FDI package which will include foreign direct investment into multi-brand retail and civil aviation within a fortnight.  Earlier, it was proposed to allow 51 % FDI in multi-brand retail. However, India is now considering a proposal to allow only 49 % FDI.