RealTime IT News

'Tis The Season For e-Tailers' Extras

Don't look now, but Black Monday is only a week away, otherwise, known as "Cyber Monday." Whatever the moniker, the Monday after Thanksgiving traditionally kicks off the online holiday selling season.

It could be a big year for e-tailers. Web research firm CoreMetrics, for one, is predicting that 2006 overall holiday retail sales will increase 16 percent over last year's holiday season.

In case the forecasts pan out, Overstock is doing what all the e-commerce providers are doing: teaming up on extra features to entice shoppers. Clicking around with no idea of what to get Uncle Nick? The online discount retailer is working with ChoiceStream's Gift Finder service to offer shoppers personalized shopping recommendations.

It works like this: Gift Finder presents shoppers with a little quiz (15 to 30 seconds long), which finds out the occasion for the gift, the age and gender of the recipient, the interests of the recipient as well as the relationship between the shopper and recipient. The Gift Finder then trolls its own data to find recommendations to send back to the shopper.

Darren Gill, ChoiceStream's vice president of business development, told internetnews.com that the Gift Finder is different than a typical direct pattern matching, collaborative filter.

"Our engine has been informed by a bunch of different purchases we've seen in different shopping environments. We understand those purchases with respect to the products, the brands, the categories that are being purchased. We build an attribute system so that when you build a recipient's profile, we understand their preferences."

But the business model is tried and true for e-commerce partners. If the shopper chooses to buy a Gift Finder-recommended item, ChoiceStream gets a slice of the revenue as a reward for helping bring buyer and product together at Overstock.

It also means Yahoo, which licensed the Gift Finder a couple of years ago, no longer has that feature by itself. "We've refined it a bit for the Overstock experience," Gill added.