This machine learning tool helps small e-commerce companies compete with Amazon and Walmart

by Michael Hines
March 8, 2019
Avatria Chicago e-commcerce technology company

Creating a retail search experience similar to what you find on Amazon is no easy task, even for larger e-commerce companies. When online shoppers can’t find what they want, whether that’s due to an unrefined ranking algorithm or a search function that doesn’t recognize synonyms of keywords, businesses lose ... well, business.

One way to solve this problem is to put an entire tech team on it, but that requires time and money that many companies don’t have. For those who can’t dedicate an entire engineering team to search, there’s Convert, a new tool developed by Chicago-based e-commerce consulting and technology firm Avatria.

“Convert uses machine learning and analytics data to improve conversion rates on e-commerce sites,” said Harry Thakkar, a partner at Avatria. “The algorithm looks at over 40 different metrics from a customer behavior and product standpoint. It puts the items the customer is most likely to buy at the top of that list.”

Thakkar and his two co-founders are acutely aware of the struggles e-commerce companies face. They worked together at Acquity Group, a digital marketing and e-commerce consulting firm, and later at Accenture after it acquired their company in 2013.

In 2014 Thakkar and his co-founders struck out on their own and launched Avatria, initially as a consulting firm.

This machine learning technology ... is not just something that only the Amazons and Walmarts of the world can use.”


Developing technology was always in the cards, though, and in mid-2016, work began on Convert, which came out of beta in late 2018.

Convert is designed to be easy to implement. It integrates with Google Analytics to pull information on customer behavior and shopping data. Once integrated into an online store, Convert’s proprietary algorithm parses the GA data to rearrange search results and category pages to show the most relevant results that are most likely to be purchased.

That’s important, because most online shoppers give up quickly if they don’t find what they want immediately.

“During our research, we found that the majority of site visitors don’t use a lot of filters and don’t really go past page one of the search results,” said Thakkar. “They really focus on the top three to five products on a page.”

On the consulting side, Avatria works with larger companies, such as Discount Tire Company. While businesses of all size can use Convert, Thakkar said the tool was priced to make it appealing to small and mid-size businesses looking to gain a tech-aided edge over the competition.

“This machine learning technology, because of what we’ve been able to set up, is not just something that only the Amazons and Walmarts of the world can use,” said Thakkar. “We’d like to see this be used by smaller shops looking to compete with the largest players in e-commerce.”

Avatria is based in the Loop and has a headcount of 14 people. Thakkar said the company is hiring for both its consulting and engineering teams.

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