June 10, 2013, 5:00 PM

Wal-Mart buys a ‘predictive analytics’ firm

Inkiru’s technology aids in merchandising, marketing and fraud prevention.

Paul Demery

Managing Editor, B2B E-commerce

Lead Photo

A look inside Wal-Mart's e-commerce HQ.

The e-commerce innovation arm of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has acquired a firm that specializes in analyzing “big data” to help retailers improve their online merchandising, marketing and fraud prevention applications.

@WalmartLabs, the technology research and development unit of Walmart Global eCommerce said today it will buy Inkiru Inc. Its “predictive analytics” technology is designed to pull data from multiple sources and help retailers build merchandising and marketing campaigns targeting shoppers when they are most likely to buy. Wal-Mart did not say what it is paying for Inkiru.

“Inkiru’s predictive analytics platform will enable us to further accelerate the big data capabilities that @WalmartLabs has propelled forward at scale, including site personalization, search, fraud prevention and marketing,” Wal-Mart said in a blog post today.

Wal-Mart added that Inkiru has “developed an active learning system that combines real-time predictive intelligence, big data analytics and a customizable decision engine to inform and streamline business decisions.”

Wal-Mart’s purchase of Inkiru follows its acquisitions last month of OneOps, an e-commerce development company, and Tasty Labs, which specializes in developing ways for retailers to connect with consumers through social media.

Inkiru says its analytics technology gathers information from sources including online purchase transactions, the long-term online shopping records or customer lifecycles of online consumers, and information on industry trends in e-commerce. Inkiru analyzes that information to produce reports that, for example, predict likely conversion rates and fraudulent transaction rates for particular promotions and marketing campaigns.

Wal-Mart said in its blog post that Inkiru founder Alok Bhanot will join @WalmartLabs as a full-time advisor to help “deliver the next-generation predictive analytics platform.”  The retailer added that among Inkiru’s “many talented data scientists and infrastructure engineers who are helping to shape the future of commerce," several will join the staff of @WalmartLabs. They include Vijay Raghavendra, a technology executive with expertise in building and scaling commerce applications; Jaya Kolhatkar, a data scientist who has been involved in leading development of electronic commerce and payment applications;  and Yitao Yao, a software architect with more than 20 years of experience in designing and implementing large-scale software systems.

@WalmartLabs is based at Wal-Mart’s e-commerce headquarters in San Bruno, CA. Wal-Mart employs 1,500 staffers in Silicon Valley as part of its global online retail operation.

Wal-Mart is No. 4 in the Internet Retailer 2013 Top 500 Guide.

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