Walmart has acquired Aspectiva, an Israel-based natural language processing (NLP) startup, for an undisclosed sum. Aspectiva will join Walmart’s Store No. 8 incubation arm, where its NLP capabilities will be used to enhance the end-to-end shopping experience. The company will continue operating from its offices in Tel Aviv.
NLP-powered chatbots and voice technology are gaining traction in retail. As of March 2018, 66% of U.S. consumers used voice or text agents in their daily lives, according to Mastercard and Mercator Advisory Group. While only 16% of consumers used conversational commerce platforms to initiate payments for goods or services, 60% of early adopters performed these transactions weekly or even more frequently.
The technology also has applications in security. RTB House, a global ad retargeting platform with clients including Walmart, added NLP to its brand safety solution in August 2018. This created a new layer of brand protection that offers comprehensive web site inspection at the page level — including URL, content and metadata analysis — before allowing ads to be placed.
Walmart has made several other recent investments in Israel. The retail giant invested in Team8, an Israeli think tank and tech incubator; launched a joint venture with Eko, an interactive media and technology company with offices in Tel Aviv and New York; and joined The Bridge, a technology accelerator that connects global companies with the startup community in Israel.