Walmart acquires Botmock design tool as it invests in voice and text purchases – TechCrunch

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With its latest acquisition, Walmart is investing more in the technology that will allow shopping through voice and chat. The retail giant announced the acquisition of “selected technology assets” from a startup called Botmock, which had developed a set of tools for designing, prototyping, testing and deploying conversational applications on all platforms.

Founded in 2016, Botmock took off just as conversational experiences were starting to develop. At that time, there was a lack of resources available for the design teams. The company says most of its early clients worked directly on platforms like DialogFlow or IBM Watson, for example, which made it harder for them to quickly test their ideas.

Meanwhile, non-developers were using tools like Visio or LucidCharts to build their conversation flows. Botmock promised a better set of tools that would allow teams to avoid blind spots in their design and create better overall conversation experiences.

Image credits: Walmart

Botmock’s solution offers a drag-and-drop editor to design the conversations of a chatbot (or a voice bot). The system automatically develops code in the background as users design their conversation flows. It also helps manage specific project-related complexities, such as platform-specific restrictions, while also making team collaboration easier.

Prior to the Walmart acquisition, the Botmock system worked with a company’s existing tools, such as Atlassian JIRA, RASA, DialogFlow, Atlassian Confluence, Slack, Zapier, Alexa Skills Kit, or IBM Watson. Conversations developed in Botmock could then be output to text or voice platforms, including Apple Business Chat, WhatsApp, SMS, Messenger, Microsoft Office Teams, Slack, Alexa, or Google Assistant.

According to a recent version of Botmock’s website, its tools were used by more than 50,000 people. He has also featured clients in all industries, including large companies like Nationwide, Accenture, Delta, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Oracle, Viasat, Mercury.ai, Liveperson, BlueRobot, BT, Avanade and Enbridge.

Walmart, however, intends to use Botmock for what it calls “conversational commerce” – an area of ​​increased investment in recent months.

The company announced in October the beta testing of a “Walmart Text to Shop” experience that allows customers to send text messages to make purchases. It follows years of investment in voice shopping, which culminated in a 2019 partnership with Google for voice-activated grocery shopping. Today, Walmart offers voice shopping through Google and Siri, and allows customers to check in for contactless pickup using their voice.

Surprisingly, however, SMS shopping is only just beginning, Walmart says.

With Botmock, the company says it will be able to create natural voice and chat interfaces for its clients and associates – the latter through the in-house “Ask Sam” app that can answer questions or direct staff. from the store to the location of the products. , among others.

“With such a tool, we can create natural voice and chat interfaces for our customers and associates faster and deploy them faster,” said Cheryl Ainoa, Walmart SVP of Core Retail Services & Emerging Technology. “Creating transparent interactions for voice or chat is a pretty difficult design problem that requires us to consider all possible conversation flows, which depend on the unique situation and needs of customers,” she said. Explain.

“For example, when a customer builds their weekly grocery cart using their voice, they might say, ‘Add milk to my cart.’ The right action and response to the customer depends on various factors including whether the customer has purchased milk in the past, what is their preferred type of milk (e.g. 2% or skimmed, etc.), has it been there already type of milk in their cart, and if so, should we ask them if they want to change the amount or let them know they already have it in their cart, ”noted Ainoa.

In the past, these types of experiments could take months to develop and deploy, but Botmock’s technology will allow it to deploy in days, she added. This, in turn, will help speed up time to market and lower costs.

Walmart did not detail the terms of the deal, noting only that it was purchasing selected tech assets.

According to Botmock’s website, however, the team will also join Walmart and work on transitioning its existing customers by helping them migrate their data. Its customers will have access to Botmock until December 1, 2021, and pro-rated refunds on subscriptions are issued, the website said.


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