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E-Commerce: Walmart Launches 'Shopycat' Gift App on Facebook

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Walmart's Shopycat app uses information culled from Facebook users to take the guesswork out of gift shopping. (Image: Zoren Ozetsky)
Walmart's Shopycat app uses information culled from Facebook users to take the guesswork out of gift shopping. (Image: Zoren Ozetsky)

BUSINESS

  • Walmart launches Shopycat, its first social shopping app affiliated with Facebook
  • Walmart's internet sales are estimated to be 2% of total revenue
  • Walmart to enter India’s $450 billion retail market

With global online retail industry sales up over 13% from last year, Walmart Stores Inc. is looking to boost its online presence with the launch of Shopycat, a Facebook application that offers gift recommendations from Walmart.com and 20 other leading e-commerce retailers.

Currently, Walmart's internet sales are estimated to be 2% of its total revenue.

Launched by the retail giant's newly formed research lab, called "@WalMartLabs", the Shopycat app seeks user permission to provide gift suggestions for what it considers to be the person’s closest friends, using data extracted from their Facebook profiles - such as information on people, places, topics, products and events as expressed through wall posts, “likes” and profile updates.

The app then suggests gift ideas ranging from music, books and movies to games and electronics based on items available on Walmart's website as well as NBC Universal, ThinkGeek, RedEnvelope, Barnes & Noble and many others.

Shopycat is able to understand such expressions as “I hate science fiction” and would not recommend the Harry Potter series to that person. In addition, it helps users let others know what kinds of gifts they want with an option to create a profile listing their likes and dislikes.

Shopycat is just one part of @WalmartLab’s wide-ranging movements to bring social and mobile technologies into Walmart as the team is currently working on a variety of initiatives to use social media to enhance Walmart.com as well as bring the technology into its physical stores.

Walmart to Increase Presence in India 

Walmart’s aggressive growth strategies go far beyond the e-commerce realm. The global big-box leader has its eye on the huge opportunities present in foreign direct investment (FDI) in India due to its rapidly growing consumer class.

Based on recent rulings from India’s government, foreign multi-brand giants like Walmart are now going to be allowed to enter the country’s $450 billion retail market despite local opposition. Walmart intends to actively pursue growth in India, though analysts predict that the policy change will take a few years to implement.

While millions of shopkeepers in India are concerned about the competition inherent in such a movement, according to a statement from India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in an interview with the New York Times: “I am confident that foreign direct investment in retail will help to bring modern technology in the farm sector, less wastage and more jobs.”

Although many opposition parties in India as well as local storeowners are up in arms about this radical governmental ruling, what many fail to recognize is that Walmart is already present in India through the nine cash-and-carry stores it operates with joint-venture partner, Bharti Retail.

Additionally, Walmart provides fruits and vegetables to over 100 of Bharti’s supermarkets.

Key Statistics – Global Retail Industry (source: MarketLine)

  • By the end of 2015, the global retail industry is expected to be valued at over $13 billion with an anticipated compound annual growth rate of 4.6%.
  • From 2006–2010, the global retail industry had a 4.3% CAGR resulting in total revenue of nearly $11 billion.
  • In 2010, 63% of the global retail industry was derived from the food and grocery segment with revenue of almost $7 billion.

By Laurie Juliano-Bachara for
Laurie Juliano-Bachara is a Chicago-based writer who covers the latest topics in professional services, entertainment and business news.

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