Walgreens Embeds Algolia’s AI Search

Walgreens has picked search API developer Algolia to upgrade its search platform, rolling out the new method over the course of a quarter. The AI-enabled engine is designed to make it easier for customers to find relevant, locally available products through search.

Algolia Walgreens

Algolia grafted its tech to Walgreens’ digital system, specifically improving search and discovery for the business operations and merchandising parts of the company. Algolia’s AI seeks to up sales and revenue, including pushing promotions while making shopping online less stressful for customers. Algolia’s search-as-a-service software works by voice or text. Walgreens didn’t specifically mention voice plans for search and purchase, but the omnichannel strategy the company is pursuing is agnostic when it comes to how people search. The API-first system encompasses search, recommendations, and other e-commerce tools. The data collected from the search engine can then be analyzed to help managers understand their customers and what they want to buy based on previous purchases and what is popular in their area.

“Working with Algolia enables us to deliver a frictionless experience for our digital shoppers,” Walgreens senior director of omnichannel strategy and programs Lindsay Mikos explained. “With Algolia and its foundational API building blocks, Walgreens is able to benefit immediately, extending the Algolia APIs into Walgreens’ custom front-end architecture, while still being able to prepare for more advanced capabilities in the future.”

The API model also streamlines the design and deployment of the custom search platform, which is why Walgreens could get it out in a far shorter time frame than the usual enterprise tech. Mikos said it might have taken 18 months to upgrade the search platform without Algolia’s system.

Search Demand

Interest in Algolia’s area of tech development has risen quickly, and neither Walgreens nor Algolia lack for rivals. Walmart recently unveiled plans to leverage Google Cloud for predicting demand. That followed the outright purchase of conversational design startup Botmock to develop Walmart’s voice and chat-based commerce further. Algolia has more than enough resources to keep up with even its biggest rivals at the moment. The startup has raised $315 million over the last decade, including $150 million this past July, which set Algolia’s value at $2.25 billion. Securing Walgreens as a partner will likely only raise Algolia’s profile in the industry. The store chain has already shown willingness to invest in conversational AI, partnering with Nuance to make a virtual assistant for scheduling COVID-19 vaccine appointments last year. Algolia’s tech will be more widely integrated, however, and it works well as a vehicle for Algolia’s APIs, according to the startup.

“Walgreens’ clear commitment to digital commerce transformation is second-to-none and has made them an ideal brand to work with,” Algolia CEO Bernadette Nixon said. “Walgreens is the perfect example of how search and discovery is more than what happens on a retailer’s site. With a faster, more relevant search, Walgreens is able to provide a seamless omnichannel experience that connects consumers with in-stock items nearby while leaning on one of its great strengths – the convenience of having a store in nearly every neighborhood.”


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