TechCrunch: When you think of industry leaders in search technology, Walmart probably doesn’t come to mind, but the retailer has just rolled out a new search engine called Polaris that uses social networking and semantic features to boost sales at Walmart.com. In fact, the company claims Polaris makes it 10 to 15 percent more likely that online shoppers will complete their purchases.
Polaris was built by a 15-person team within @WalmartLabs, including many engineers who came from companies Walmart purchased, such as Kosmix, OneRiot, Grabble, Small Society, and others. It builds on “Shopycat,” an earlier Walmart.com feature that used social media data to recommend gifts. The tool also relies on semantic technology that was part of Kosmix’s Social Genome. “It’s a term that encompasses the connections between people, events, places, and products most importantly,” explained Walmart’s Sri Subramaniam. “And we analyze the relationships between all these different nodes and entities. So not only are these concepts formalized in a hierarchy, the relationships between them are gleamed.”