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Walmart financial services sign

Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, announced today that it would be acquiring Inkiru, a small startup that uses data analysis to improve e-commerce.

Inkiru, currently based in Palo Alto, Calif., will join @WalmartLabs, a technology group within the company’s e-commerce division. ” The similarities between Inkiru and @WalmartLabs are uncanny, with both having an innovative spirit and the ability to leverage big data to improve the customer experience,” someone at @WalmartLabs posted on that company’s blog today.

Inkiru’s “predictive intelligence platform” applies data analysis to a variety of e-commerce needs, including fraud reduction, customer segmentation and targeting, just-in-time recommendations to entice customers to buy more stuff, and more. It incorporates machine learning technologies to automatically improve its algorithms, and can integrate with a variety of external and internal data sources. We’re guessing (in the absence of a clear statement from Walmart) that this will eventually disappear as a product, while Walmart will absorb the technology for its own needs.

“Walmart’s data scientists will now be able to work with big data directly and create impact faster than ever before,” Walmart’s blogger wrote.

In other words, this sounds like a fairly straightforward “manquisition,” the latest in a long series of such acquisitions aimed at incorporating talent and technological capital into the retailer. (OneOps and TastyLabs joined Walmart in mid-May.) Inkiru’s Vijay Raghavendra, Jaya Kokhatkar, Yitao Yao, and founder Alok Bhanot will be joining the @WalmartLabs team in various roles.

The companies did not disclose how much Walmart paid for its acquisition, and we don’t know how much Inkiru has raised to date, or from whom.

Top photo: Attention Inkiru founders. Please pick up your checks at the Walmart Financial Services counter. Photo credit: Ron Dauphin/Flickr

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