Walmart announced this week its acquisition of Aspectiva, a startup that uses machine learning and natural language processing technology to draw insights from consumer product reviews for shoppers, according to a Walmart blog post.
The retailer did not disclose financial terms for the deal, which will result in Aspectiva joining Walmart's Store No. 8 incubation unit, though the startup will continue to operate out of its home offices in Tel Aviv, Israel.
The acquisition represents the latest deal between Walmart and an Israeli startup. The retailer also invested in Team8, an Israeli think tank and tech incubator, and worked with Eko, an interactive media and technology company, to launch the Walmart Toy Lab online experience, among other efforts.
On its website, Aspectiva says its technology analyzes product reviews and surfaces "attribute-based product insights" to help shoppers in their purchasing decisions. Essentially, it combs through a lot of user-generated content looking for valuable nuggets that might add another layer of understanding about how products look, feel or work, so that shoppers don't have to do extensive research on their own.
That could prove to be a very important capability as the amounts of user-generated content — often some form of review — about products continues to increase, not just on retailer and brand websites and apps, but all around the Internet and throughout social media. Consumers have indicated they want access to this kind of content as they make their buying decisions. For example, 50% of consumers surveyed last year by Blue Fountain Media said user-generated content is helpful to them while shopping.
Yet, it can be difficult for retailers to harness this kind of content and surface the most useful bits in ways that are easy for customers to digest and act on. Aspectiva's technology might be able to help Walmart provide shoppers with a more complete picture of what fellow shoppers are saying about particular items. Applying this kind of technology to the shopping process also can be another ingredient in providing shoppers with more personalized shopping experiences, as it helps them find the most relevant product review content for their particular shopping journeys.
Much in the same way artificial intelligence technologies like machine learning and natural language processing can be used to process, analyze and gather insights from vast amounts of data on customer shopping patterns and behaviors, they likewise can help shoppers gain insights from vast amounts of user-generated content. And, as a Street Fight magazine post recently noted, Aspectiva is just one of several companies using AI-related technology in this way.