Gift giving just got a little more high-tech this holiday season, thanks to the first-ever Facebook app from Walmart, which tells users which gifts they should buy for their friends and loved ones.
The app, dubbed Shopycat, analyzes data from Facebook pages, and then estimates who a user’s top 10 friends are. It then recommends which gifts a user should give to those friends, based upon information available about the people through Facebook.
So if, for example, one of your friends often posts about their love of a certain movie, Shopycat will recommend you buy that person the DVD — an extremely useful feature, if slightly less meaning than picking the gift without the help of an app. If that’s not the right gift, well, you’re in luck; Shopycat offers up 10 or more gifts for each person.
Based on our tests, the app worked OK, and had no shortage of suggested things you should buy from Walmart. But some of the suggestions were definitely wrong, but we could see where they came from. (For instance, it said my sister might want to buy a punching bag because she’d posted a number of times about boxer Manny Pacquiao. I can say with certainty that she does not want a 100-pound punching bag for Christmas.)
Shopycat is one of the first products released by Walmart’s technology development firm, @Walmartlabs, which is developing a number of apps for the big box retail giant.
“Shopycat is the first step in what we think is a very strategic area for the industry as a whole,” said Venky Harinarayan, co-founder of @Walmartlabs.
In other words, expect these kinds of thinking-for-you apps to be coming out from Walmart’s competitors soon.