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Walmart and eBay adopt graph database

By Retail Technology | Monday March 24 2014

Retail giants turn to database technology to optimise operations, increase insight into customer demand and improve customer service to ultimately drive more sales

Large retailers including eBay and Walmart are using graph database Neo4j in mission-critical business applications it was announced by the database’s developer Neo Technology

E-commerce giant eBay is using Neo4j to speed, streamline and improve its same day delivery service to end customers globally. Walmart is using Neo4j to analyse online shoppers’ behaviour in order to be able to optimise the up and cross sell of major product lines in core markets.

Speeding up database queries
The technology plays a role in eBay’s vision to redefine local commerce, as approximately 75% of commerce happens within 15 miles of the consumer’s home. 

While e-commerce is quick and convenient, delivery is not. But eBay believes the advent of same day delivery will disrupt the local shopping experience. 

Due to eBay’s explosive growth and new features, the company needed to rebuild its service platform to guarantee the fastest possible delivery times. Its previous MySQL solution was too slow and complex to maintain and the queries used to calculate the best route additionally took too long. 

The eBay development team knew that a graph database could be added to the existing service oriented architecture (SOA) and services structure to solve the performance and scalability challenges. The team turned to Neo4j, after researching a number of products available in the market. 

“We found Neo4j to be literally thousands of times faster than our prior MySQL solution, with queries that require 10-100 times less code. Today, Neo4j provides eBay with functionality that was previously impossible,” said Volker Pacher, senior developer at eBay.

Powering real-time recommendations

Walmart is also using Neo4j in production. In the past, buyers were largely dependent on information provided by manufacturers in the form of marketing. But thanks primarily to user-generated reviews and people’s tendency to consult social media friends about purchases today buyers have other information sources. 

Peer-to-peer information and the ready availability of expert opinions give them access to a rich source of customer-centric product information about goods they are considering sourcing. In order to make sense of all of this connected data, Walmart has committed to using the Neo4j graph database.

“Neo4j helps us to understand our online shoppers' behaviour and the relationship between our customers and products, providing a perfect tool for real-time product recommendations. 

"As the current market leader in graph databases, and with enterprise features for scalability and availability, Neo4j is the right choice to meet our demands,” said Marcos Wada, software developer at Walmart.

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