Walmart's Shopycat uses Facebook to recommend gifts

The Shopycat app is the first from its @WalmartLabs unit focused on social and mobile commerce

Walmart has launched its Shopycat application, that uses information on the interests of friends on Facebook to make recommendations on gifts for them from Walmart stores and other sites.

Shopycat is the first social shopping app from Walmart's recently-formed @WalmartLabs unit which is focused on developing platforms, products and businesses around social and mobile commerce.

The lab was set up after Walmart's acquisition earlier this year of Kosmix in Mountain View, California. Kosmix had developed a social media technology platform that filters and organizes content in social networks in a manner relevant to users.

Shopycat matches users' interests to a catalog that includes products from Walmart.com, Walmart and other sites including bookseller Barnes & Noble and gifts store RedEnvelope, said Anand Rajaraman, senior vice president of Walmart Global eCommerce and head of the lab in a blog post on Wednesday. Rajaraman was a co-founder of Kosmix.

Shopycat is now available on Facebook.

It is based on @WalmartLabs' Social Genome platform that captures the connections between people, places, topics, products and events as expressed through social media be it a post, like or profile update, Walmart said.

A number of companies are turning to social networks to get a better understanding of their customers' interests and requirements.

Ebay acquired last month Hunch, an online platform for customized purchase recommendations. Buyers on eBay are expected to benefit from Hunch's predictive ability to generate recommendations for items available on eBay, based on their specific tastes, the company said.

Walmart is also working on technologies such as those that let shoppers buy products in the aisles and skip the checkout line, and is also interested in NFC (near-field communication) for making purchases by phone.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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