Coherent Path aims to provide a ‘gateway effect’ for retail shopping


Amazon and Netflix are known as the pioneers in bringing you personalized recommendations for what to buy or watch next. A Cambridge startup unveiling itself today is hoping to one-up the sites in the quest for a better recommendation.

Coherent Path has developed analytics that aim to understand how a customer can be influenced to buy one product—then another, then another—to ultimately get the customer to buy what the retailer really wants to sell them, said co-founder and chief executive James Glover.

The company’s personalization software then is used to recommend these “gateway” products.

For instance, a store might sell a lot of cosmetics but also sell higher-margin designer women’s wear; instead of trying to influence a customer to make another cosmetics purchase, Coherent Path would recommend a product—and then hopefully another one down the line—that form a series of steps leading the customer to become interested in the designer women’s wear, Glover said.

This “gateway effect” of sorts is a new idea in the retail/e-commerce industry, which has traditionally just focused on recommending products to customers that are similar to what they bought already, he said.

“If you want to compete with Amazon, you want to be doing something different from what Amazon is doing. You don’t just want to be selling one more thing,” Glover said.

Coherent Path is offering its personalization technology for email marketing, website, in-store, and mobile.

A half-dozen retail/e-commerce companies are using the technology so far, including Walgreens-owned, which has gotten a significant boost in response from customers that can be attributed to the new approach, Glover said.

Coherent Path aims to be different from offerings such as RichRelevance, which was founded by an Amazon vet and embodies the e-commerce giant’s approach, he said.

Founding and funding

Coherent Path’s founders, Glover and CTO Greg Leibon, are both veterans of Burlington fraud management software firm Memento, which was acquired by FIS in 2012.

While at Momento, the pair gained experience in building models of what a customer looks like, Glover said, which has gone to use in Coherent Path. They founded the company in 2012; before that Glover had been VP of sales at Lexington-based Desktone (which ended up being acquired in October by VMware).

The 15-person company has been incubating at Bessemer Venture Partners’ office in Cambridge and expects to move into a new office in Boston soon.

Coherent Path has raised $7.75 million in funding so far. That includes a $1.5 million seed round early on from dunnhumby Ventures and CommonAngels, and a $6.25 million round in June including those firms and led by Sigma Prime Ventures and GrandBanks Capital.

Image of bags being held by a shopper via Shutterstock.

Kyle Alspach has worked in journalism in Massachusetts since 2005 and was one of the original staff writers at BetaBoston.
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