Yahoo Adds Shopping Choices

Yahoo Shopping added two new tools to help consumers find more things to buy.

Thursday’s launch of Yahoo Shopping Gift Finder aims to expose more of merchants’ inventory to browsers, while making suggestions more relevant. Yahoo also enabled RSS feeds for some product categories.

Gift Finder, still in beta mode, is powered by the ChoiceStream Personalization Platform. ChoiceStream’s software creates and updates a database of “consumer affinities” then matches them with products.

ChoiceStream’s technology “merchandises” product inventories based on an individual’s profile and aggregated demographic data. With Gift Finder, shoppers fill out a short form characterizing the gift recipient. The ChoiceStream recommendation engine matches the data provided with inventory available and the database of previous choices to determine which items were most popular with similar shoppers.

“With most gift sites, you’re usually seeing the usual types of gift items. ChoiceStream CEO Steve Johnson said. “This is actually pulling from a huge inventory of gift products, making most of a merchant’s entire inventory available for gift-buying. Our engine understands what’s giftable and what’s not.”

For example, the technology wouldn’t suggest a battery for a specific digital camera, because the recipient would not necessarily possess that brand. “As the gift buyer selects a gift to buy, we update the engine a bit to recognize popular types of gifts for a particular person,” he added.

Johnson said ChoiceStream can expose a lot more of Yahoo Shopping’s 60 million or so products, resulting in more interesting and unexpected choices for shoppers and better sales for merchants.

This is the first major license of ChoiceStream technology by Yahoo, although Yahoo already uses ChoiceStream to provide recommendations for the recently launched My Yahoo Movies.

Also on Thursday, Yahoo enabled RSS feeds for several shopping categories. Consumers can sign up to receive feeds via My Yahoo or third-party RSS readers. They can subscribe to news for several categories of music, DVDs and videos, and a variety of consumer electronics products, such as cell phones, PDAs, MP3 players and networking equipment.

News Around the Web