This interview is part of our new AI in Retail series, where we interview the world's top thought leaders on the front lines of the intersections between AI and retail.
In this interview, we speak with Raj De Datta, co-founder and CEO of Bloomreach, to understand how his company is using AI to transform food retail, and what the future of food retail holds.
1. What’s the story behind Bloomreach? Why and how did you begin?
RD: I started Bloomreach back in 2009 together with my co-founder Ashutosh Garg, a former Google Search engineer. We believed that every online experience could be vastly improved if they were catered to the specific needs and interests of the individual customer — all powered by smart algorithms that got smarter every day.
We hired some of Silicon Valley's smartest and brightest and started developing. In 2012, we publicly launched our first product which uses smart algorithms that understand the language customers use to search and helps businesses automatically deliver landing pages that match the searcher's intent — and rise to the top of search engine results.
In 2014 we launched two new products for commerce. One tackles on-site search with a new AI-driven site-search solution that delivers relevant results across search and facet navigation. The other put data-driven tracking experimentation and solutions in the hands of merchandising teams. Through the acquisition of the leading Open Source Web Content Management company Hippo in 2016, we were able to create the first Digital Experience Platform that combines content, search and merchandising. This platform called Bloomreach Experience (brX) was acknowledged as a visionary in the Gartner 2018 Magic Quadrant for Digital Experience Platforms.
2. Please describe your use case and how Bloomreach uses AI:
RD: As the number one provider of AI-powered search and merchandising in the B2B and B2C commerce space, Bloomreach helps brands, manufacturers, retailers, and distributors compete against large scale marketplaces like Amazon and Walmart by bringing their business into the search engine.
We view our Digital Experience Platform as the third generation of commerce technology that goes well beyond marketing on the website to deliver a connected experience to customers at every stage of their journey and across all touchpoints. We’re enabling any business to iterate and improve those experiences at Amazonian speed.
Our AI-driven platform harnesses a single source of customer understanding that enables our customers to create relevant brand experiences at scale. Our advanced algorithms drive personalized search and browse results, and our full suite of tools including predictive insights, visual merchandising, and measurable targeting and testing, enables merchandising and commerce teams to create experiences that inspire and convert customers.
3. Could you share a specific customer/user that benefits from what you offer? What has Bloomreach done for them?
RD: The uniqueness of our AI is that it understands customer intent to deliver the most relevant search results. If a customer enters a search term like “lucerne reduced fat one-gallon milk” most search tools would return a random list of items that contain any of the criteria entered, meaning you would see any Lucerne products, one gallon packages of any sort, reduced fat products, etc.
Bloomreach search understands that Lucerne is a brand name, reduced fat is an ingredient, one gallon is a volume unit and milk is the actual product that you're searching for. This means search results become so much more relevant and users won't leave the search bar disappointed with what their query returned. For a grocery retailer like Albertsons, which is one of our clients, this makes a huge difference in their revenue per visit. Albertsons recently implemented Bloomreach Search & Merchandising and are seeing amazing initial results:
- The amount of no search results went down by 90 percent
- Basket building from search went up by 25 percent
- They have 100 percent uptime
- Faster response times (from 8 > 2 seconds)
- Improved relevancy
- Reduced basket building time
- Full control for business to merchandise and manage search results
In fact, they were so amazed by the results that they immediately stopped the evaluation process for another business unit and went straight for the Bloomreach product.
4. What other AI use cases in Retail are you excited about?
RD: Fashion retailers are another perfect use case for AI as they can leverage smart algorithms to deliver truly personalized search results to their customers, resulting in a higher revenue per visit and more loyal, returning customers. In fact, retailers that don't use AI will be pushed out of the market pretty soon as customer expectations are rising every day and the last best experience they had will be the benchmark for any future interaction.
We're currently also seeing increasing demand from B2B companies. Distributors like Staples and HDSupply are already successfully leveraging our tools to deliver more relevant buying experiences to their customers.
5. Where will Bloomreach be in 5 years?
RD: At our recent community event in San Francisco we launched a new capability that allows our users to customize our algorithms to their own business priorities. As algorithms are becoming more and more commoditized, the competitive advantage will be in how you use them. Being the first technology vendor to offer this kind of customization, we will definitely take a bigger share of the market. In five years from now, we aim to be the leading customer experience platform for digital business.