Former Google Execs At WibiData Set Out To Personalize Shopping Experience

WibiData has launched a machine learning and analytics platform dubbed WibiRetail aimed at helping the world's largest retailers like Macy's reimagine the shopping experience for potential and existing customers. The startup was funded by Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, Ron Conway, Canaan Partners, and NEA, among others.

Google's influence seems noticeably present through prior work done by the WibiData's founders Christophe Bisciglia and Garrett Wu. Bisciglia founded big data pioneer Cloudera and worked on Google's search infrastructure. Wu led Google's personalized search and recommendations team.

"A few years from now, when the industry can take all the data there is to know about an individual to personalize the experience, they will walk into a store and the associate with know them the same way my friend knows me when I walk into his apartment," Wu said. "You will see the same thing online."

WibiRetail, designed from the ground up, addresses the gap between the platforms that exist today with the consumer experiences that modern machine-learning and predictive analytics technologies can deliver. Company executives believe department stores have a choice to make -- either integrate personalization into everything they do or deliver a boring and unimaginative shopping experience.

Personalizing the experience, the WibiRetail platform sits on open-source Big Data technologies that companies like Google rely on. It takes technology similar to what Amazon and Netflix use to accelerate time to market with personalization strategies to improve consumer experiences. Wu believes it will give retailers better conversion numbers and higher order value per customer visit that can last the lifetime of the customer.

Personalization is not limited to the United States or retail. The company operates in North America, but there's nothing about the technology or business practices that will keep it from expanding worldwide, said Rob Seaman, VP of product at WibiData. "About three to five years from now, Garrett and I think people will look back at disjointed retail experience similar to the way we look back today at paper maps, wondering why they even existed," he said. "The amount of personal information people leave behind, there's no reason why we can't make the customer experience that much better."

WibiData has rolled out a platform for retailers, but the technology can support a machine learning model to personalize services for any channel with an Internet connection such as wearables or smart meters connected to smart grids. Think Internet of Things. For instance, the smart meter electronically asks the questions and compares the home's energy use to others in the area and maes a recommendation to personal services. 

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