AI isn't all self-driving cars and chess-playing computers. There's an emerging market for AI use in e-commerce.

Investors poured a record high $1.05B into artificial intelligence startups in Q2’16, and AI is already affecting more areas of our lives than many people realize. Even retail and e-commerce companies are increasingly integrating the technology.

Recently there’s been a rush of AI announcements and acquisitions by major retailers: Just this week, Etsy acquired Blackbird to enhance its search functionality through AI, followed the very next day by Amazon acquiring (formerly GoButler), another AI-powered searching tool. And earlier this month, e-commerce unicorn Houzz (see our full unicorn tracker here) announced a deep learning initiative to help users find and buy products by clicking on images.

Using CB Insights data, we dove into the wide array of AI startups focused on retailers and e-commerce businesses, including AI-powered personal shopping apps, natural language processing and image recognition tools for shopping websites, predictive inventory allocation tools, and more.

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The area is emerging, and most companies focused on retail AI remain in the very early stages. However, we have seen several larger deals in recent months. ViSenze, which lets users search e-commerce sites by image or find visually similar items, raised a $10.5M Series B in September, while Trax Image Recognition, which visually tracks the performance of goods on grocery shelves, raised a $40M Series C in June. Several startups are backed by top investors from our smart money list, such as search optimization tool Zettata, backed by Accel Partners, and predictive customer targeting platform AgilOne, backed by Sequoia Capital.

While there are numerous other AI startups focused broadly on personalized marketing and ad targeting, we limited this market map to startups whose core focus is retail and e-commerce. The startups in this graphic have raised roughly $650M in total disclosed equity financing. Scroll down to view the graphic, category explanations, and a full company list with select investors.

Retail AI market map

See the market map below, and click to enlarge.

This market map is not meant to be exhaustive of startups in the space. Graphic includes private, independent companies only.

Final Retail AI Market Map

Category breakdown

We divided our market map into the 12 categories listed below:

Real-time product targeting - Machine learning to present online shoppers with personalized product recommendations. These companies typically update e-commerce websites in real time to present product selections best suited to the individual shopper.

Real-time pricing & incentives - Machine learning to adjust pricing, sale options, rewards, and coupons in real time to try to push hesitant shoppers toward conversion.

Natural language search - Algorithms that use natural language processing to improve search functionality in e-commerce websites.

Visual search - Image recognition platforms that help e-commerce websites let visitors search by image, instead of text, and match relevant products to specific images.

In-store visual monitoring - AI-powered software that analyzes photo and visual content of store shelves to help brands track how their products are stocked and promoted in real time.

Conversational commerce - Chat software and chatbots focused on helping shoppers make purchases in a conversational text format using natural language processing.

Predictive merchandising - Big data analysis to optimize purchasing, allocation, and product assortment across stores and e-commerce. The aim is to better predict demand in different geographies to avoid waste and prevent inventory from going out of stock.

Sizing & styling - AI-powered software to help retailers integrate improved product sizing and outfit-building tools into their websites.

Multichannel marketing - Startups using AI to create targeted marketing campaigns across desktop, mobile, email, and other digital channels. Inclusion limited to startups focused specifically on e-commerce.

Integrated online & in-store analytics - Startups that combine both digital and physical store analytics to help retailers better understand their customers.

Location-based marketing & analytics - Startups that combine digital and physical store analytics, while also integrating beacon technology to track shoppers’ locations.


Company list

Retail AI Private Company List
Company Category Select Investors
Plexure Integrated Online & In-Store Analytics Vix Investments
Manthan Software Services Integrated Online & In-Store Analytics Norwest Venture Partners, Eight Roads Ventures
Satisfi Conversational Commerce DreamIt Ventures
Conversable Conversational Commerce Undisclosed
Mona Conversational Commerce Techstars
Deepomatic Conversational Commerce Alven Capital Conversational Commerce Unilazer Ventures
Kip Conversational Commerce StartFast Venture Accelerator
Staqu Visual Search Indian Angel Network
ViSenze Visual Search Rakuten Ventures, Walden International, Enspire Capital, WI Harper Group
Cortexica Visual Search Imperial Innovations
Tamecco Location-Based Marketing & Analytics Yume no Machi SoZo Iinkai
DataBerries Location-Based Marketing & Analytics ISAI, Mosaic Ventures
Invisible Media Location-Based Marketing & Analytics SMS Marketing
Grey Jean Technologies Location-Based Marketing & Analytics Cosmas Wong
iTraff Technology In-Store Visual Monitoring Innovation Nest
Eversight In-Store Visual Monitoring Emergence Capital Partners, Sutter Hill Ventures, Industry Ventures
Cosy (Cognitive Operational Systems) In-Store Visual Monitoring 500 Accelerator
Trax Image Recognition In-Store Visual Monitoring Undisclosed
Blue Yonder Predictive Merchandising Warburg Pincus
Celect Predictive Merchandising In-Q-Tel, August Capital
Unata Multichannel Marketing MaRS Investment Accelerator Fund, Golden Triangle Angel Network
Thirdshelf Multichannel Marketing iNovia Capital, Otimo Retail
Emarsys Multichannel Marketing Vector Capital
Appier Multichannel Marketing JAFCO Asia, Sequoia Capital India, TransLink Capital
Jetlore Multichannel Marketing Fenox Venture Capital, Sierra Ventures, CRV, Alsop-Louie Partners
Tinyclues Multichannel Marketing Elaia Partners, ISAI, Alven Capital
ReSci (Retention Science) Multichannel Marketing Forerunner Ventures, Baroda Ventures, Mohr Davidow Ventures
SmarterHQ Multichannel Marketing Battery Ventures, Simon Venture Group
Crobox Multichannel Marketing Ventech, Keadyn
CrossCues Multichannel Marketing Bank Innovation INV
AgilOne Multichannel Marketing Sequoia Capital, Mayfield Fund, Tenaya Capital
Zettata Natural Language Search Accel Partners, Helion Venture Partners, Milliways Ventures
Twiggle Natural Language Search Alibaba Group, Naspers, State of Mind Ventures
AddStructure Natural Language Search Techstars
ZenClerk Real-Time Pricing & Incentives Social Starts
Suzu Real-Time Pricing & Incentives Entrepreneur First
Personali Real-Time Pricing & Incentives Cedar Fund, Gemini Israel Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners
Granify Real-Time Pricing & Incentives Extreme Startups, iNovia Capital, Social Starts, Valar Ventures, BDC Venture Capital
Hugefly Real-Time Product Targeting Mayak Singhal
AntVoice Real-Time Product Targeting Alven Capital, Nestadio Capital
Reflektion Real-Time Product Targeting Intel Capital, Nike, Battery Ventures
Predictry Real-Time Product Targeting Multimedia Development Corporation
Oorace (Search’XPR) Real-Time Product Targeting Unicore Technology Company, Sofimac Partners
FindMine Sizing & Styling XRC Labs
Fashion Metric Sizing & Styling Techstars


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