Walmart has announced a planned acquisition that the retailer believes will play an important role in its strategy to expand its “conversational” platform across voice, chat and AI-driven assistant technologies.

The retailer is acquiring Botmock, a startup that has created tools to design, prototype, test and deploy conversational applications across various platforms. The simplicity and openness of Botmock’s platform appears to be a key driver in Walmart’s decision to make the deal.

Cheryl Ainoa, senior vice president core services: retail & emerging tech, Walmart Global Tech, wrote yesterday on LinkedIn, “Botmock’s no-code platform features an intuitive drag and drop interface that automatically develops code in the background as conversation flows are created. By giving designers, merchants, customer service and other non-technical teams access to these tools, we can empower business owners from across our enterprise to easily create voice, chat and intelligent assistant experiences.”

Walmart sees voice and chat as natural ways for customers to communicate and believes that the technology will play a more prominent role over time. The retailer sees the ease of using the Botmock system helping the retailer to roll out voice and chat interfaces more quickly for both customers and associates. The technology Walmart is acquiring will enable it to build and deploy conversational upgrades in a matter of days instead of months.

The Botmock deal marks a continuation for Walmart into conversational technology.

Walmart teamed up with Google in 2017 to enable customers to order products online using a Google Home device or their Android phones. The retailer is also voice-enabled on the Siri platform.

Conversational applications include giving customers the option of checking in for contactless pickup orders using their voices. Associates can use the “Ask Sam” app to find a product’s location in the store.

Walmart has been active in pursuing text-to-shop technology, as well. The retailer, which launched its since abandoned Jetblack text and personal shopping service in 2018, recently announced a beta pilot of its Walmart Text to Shop service in select markets.

“Our customers today are busier than ever and they’re looking for simple ways to quickly connect with Walmart whenever they need us,” wrote Ms. Ainoa. “We’re seeing one of the easiest and most natural ways for customers to do this is through voice and chat, which is why we’ve built and deployed multiple conversational experiences and have plans to introduce even more.”


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