Need Gift Ideas? Let Walmart Troll Your Facebook


A new Facebook application called “Shopycat” hopes to solve the typical Christmas conundrum of what to give the people on your list – and also conveniently lead users straight to Walmart’s website to do their buying.

Shopycat generates gift ideas using an algorithm that factors in friends’ Facebook likes and interests.

“There’s a real customer pain point on the web,” Vecky Harinarayan, co-founder of @WalmartLabs told “Gifting is a social activity, but it’s a hard problem to solve.”

Enter the Shopycat app, which launched Wednesday evening and already has 7,000 users, according to Facebook. The app allows users to scroll through their friends or search by name, providing a list of gifts that person may enjoy. 

The app isn’t perfect — and Harinarayan knows this. For example, Facebook likes alone aren’t guaranteed to generate the perfect gift.

“If someone likes Lady Gaga, you probably can’t give them a Lady Gaga album because they already have it,”Harinarayan said.

The solution? His team weighted collector’s editions much more heavily than other items like a more recently released Lady Gaga album. Another factor considered was the amount of time something has been on the market.

Also, if a friend’s Facebook interests don’t generate enough relevant data, the app will automatically generate gift suggestions that include some of Walmart’s top gifts, such as a quesadilla maker, laptop carrier or a keepsake box — not necessarily ideal for everyone.

“We felt like, ‘let’s go in and figure it out,’” he said. “It might not be right on day one, but we’ll get it right at some point.”

The company Harinarayan co-founded, Kosmix, was acquired by Walmart in April and became @WalmartLabs, a testing ground for  the big-box store to innovate and explore ways to leverage the mobile and social worlds.

“The holiday is about learning for us and less about driving revenue,” Harinarayan said. “Our key focus is adoption.”

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