To spare online shoppers the chore of scouring through scores of deals featuring massages, fairy lights and costume jewellery in the lead up to Christmas, GrabOne has launched the Giftinator, an online tool that allows users to narrow their searches to find gifts that match their interests.
As New Zealand's biggest daily deal providers, GrabOne publishes over 1,700 deals a week, which means that there might be more than 1,600 offers available on the site at any given time. And while choice is a good thing, it can be frustrating for time-pressed gift-buyers to slog through everything available to find what they want.
By launching the Giftinator, GrabOne now enables customers to streamline their search for gifts in terms who the gift is for, the amount they're willing to spend, and the age group and interests of the recipient.
Although the daily deal juggernaut's press release pushes it as a first in the "online deals market in New Zealand," the Giftinator is essentially a sorting device not dissimilar from those found on the websites of most online retailers. The difference in this case, however, lies in the execution, which the company's marketing director Keeley Sander says has been developed with mobile users in mind.
“It was important to meet the needs of GrabOne's growing mobile audience – currently over 50 percent for mobile and tablet,” says Sander. “So the Giftinator was designed mobile-first. We built it using modern front-end technologies such as Foundation to provide an optimised experience for the user, no matter what screen they are viewing on.”
The design uses CSS3 to minimise CPU load and download size, which improves speed and performance for users on the go.
“GrabOne takes pride in its ability to manoeuvre quickly to meet the ever-changing demands of consumers," says Sander. "The Giftinator is another GrabOne product that delivers innovation and discovery for our customers.”
Sander says the Giftinator is custom curated by the sales and marketing team and utilises an existing platform to to tag and track the progress of the various deals.
Although this approach means that each deal is filed by a human rather than an automated algorithm, it's worth noting that stereotypes can at times sneak into categorisation.
For example, at the time of writing, when the Giftinator was set to adult women with an interest in DIY, the tool rendered no results in Auckland, Wellington, Northland, Manawatu, Tauranga, Hawke's Bay, Christchurch, Taranaki, Queenstown and Dunedin.
Although there weren't many other options available in the DIY category beyond a greenhouse, a shed and a log splitter, this does illustrate one of the challenges of incorporating a recommendation tool.
However, GrabOne's decision to put humans in control of the recommendations could be a smart move, given the problems sometimes caused by automated recommendation engines.
As illustrated in a Buzzfeed list titled '21 times Spotify was obviously drunk', even the systems employed by global online juggernauts can get it horribly wrong.
And the growing trend of brands and media owners trying to get better at personalising what they offer to users has also manifested itself in other creepy ways. The classic case in point would be that of the US-based retailer Target, which found out that a teenager was pregnant before her father knew.
Target customises its marketing communications on choices that a specific consumer has made in the past. And given that he sophisticated algorithm behind the system is capable of even assigning pregnancy scores to consumers, Target started sending coupons for baby items to the father, whose credit card was being used by his daughter to peruse the Target catalogues of baby items. The outraged father immediately contacted the company and criticised it for encouraging his daughter to fall pregnant.
But, after an awkward conversation with his daughter, the father apologised to Target, saying: "It turns out there’s been some activities in my house I haven’t been completely aware of. She’s due in August. I owe you an apology."
So while GrabOne's new recommendation tool might cause some ladies to miss out on a greenhouse or a log splitter this Christmas, at least it isn't going to cause awkward family conversations based on creepily accurate predictions.