Walmart.com is one of the largest shopping sites in the US, with millions of visitors coming in to shop for food, essentials, toys and everything in between. Customers actively use our search engine to find what they need, and we continue to improve the searching and finding experience for our customers. In the last twelve months, we have focused our efforts in helping our customers discover the most relevant products for long, complex and less common queries (we call this segment “tail”).

Imagine the last time you searched for a very diet friendly cereal (from a specific brand), a very…


A lot of folks at small and medium companies (particularly in retail and related industries) have reached out to me and asked about how to build a search engine and I am going to write a series on this topic. My first post today will talk about:

  • an introduction to search engines
  • search engines in the context of retail and business
  • building blocks of a search engine

In the last five years, I have worked across search indexing, query understanding, ranking, front end, and supply chains services to develop knowledge and expertise across the stack. …


A lot of us are familiar with tests and exams we have been taken through our life from school exams to college admissions tests to a driving or a corporate ethics test. I was recently taking one of these tests and wondered if a bot or an AI system could take the test and if such an intelligent system exists today. I am particularly referring to tests which require reading, learning, and reasoning. In this article, I will share the latest advancements in AI and analyze the latest QA (Question Answering) systems through an example course and exam.

Latest from…


In the previous article, I defined “product search” and talked about the players in the market — platform companies (like Google, Amazon A9), service providers and retailers (Instacart, Doordash, Walmart, Target, Wayfair) and emerging players and social media companies (Instacart, Shop). I shared a point of view on who will lead this market depending on the shopping category. In this article, I will talk about product search in the “food and household essentials” category. …


Product search (or “searching for products or items one wants to buy”) continues to be a problem for consumers. In 2020, consumers are more concerned about their health and safety, and have less time and money to shop. If natural disasters, epidemics, and safety issues continue, consumers will increasingly rely on technology to help find and shop products. They will want more convenience. At the same time, businesses (particularly small businesses) are struggling with local regulations, health concerns, reduced foot traffic and using technology to bring back sales.

When shopping for products, consumers are looking for broadly three types —…


I lead the Search Experience team at Walmart and I am writing my first story on search and recommendation engines. The goal of a search or recommendation engine is to offer the best suggestions to users no matter who they are, what they want and where they are shopping from. The key pillars of such a system include understanding, matching with and ranking the best options, and offering tools to users to help make decisions.

In this story, we will focus on understanding, which includes:

  • understanding the user (what they have bought before, do they have a brand affinity)
  • understanding…


Congratulations! You just launched an amazing product or feature for your users! You get congratulatory messages and a big bonus next spring. But, what did you learn? What did your team and the organization learn? Learning and developing insights is extremely important for a variety of reasons but is often neglected in organizations. Let me explain why gathering and sharing insights could be extremely powerful:

  • Often, you will run experiments and fail but if you learn and not just learn anything, but learn and form strong hypotheses after thorough research, you are more likely to come back and succeed
  • Learning…

Defining multiple OKRs and understanding the meaning and trade-offs of goal-setting

In Part 1,2, 3 and 4, we have covered the following topics:

  • defining a clear vision for your product
  • selecting key customer outcomes and corresponding “external” metrics for the product
  • defining “internal” metrics that help move “external” metrics and achieve the customer outcomes
  • defining a goal or OKR for the product

In Part 5, we will define another objective for the product, talk about tracking OKRs, and the benefits and trade-offs of goal-setting.

In the previous story, we defined the following OKR:

Objective: Improve the percent of “search queries…


Defining goal for your product or OKRs

In Part 1,2 and 3, we have covered the following topics:

  • defining a clear vision for your product
  • selecting key customer outcomes and corresponding “external” metrics for the product
  • defining “internal” metrics that help move “external” metrics and achieve the customer outcomes

In Part 4, we will start to define goals for our product. There are several ways to set goals and a lot of them include defining clear measurable outcomes or objectives and connecting them to secondary outcomes or results. I will use the OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) methodology below to…


Defining key internal metrics to achieve your customer outcomes

In Part 1 and 2, we have covered the following topics:

  • defining a clear vision for your product
  • selecting key customer outcomes and corresponding “external” metrics for the product

In Part 3, we will discuss what we can call “internal” or “secondary” metrics for the product. Examples include “site load time” or “error pages returned”.

In order to define “internal” metrics, it is important to connect them to the vision and the primary customer outcomes we have talked about in Part 2 of the series. The metrics we had outlined include:

Sarabjeet Singh

Curious. Love people, ideas and technology.

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