I love the Amazon system that creates relational recommendations based on purchase history. I’m a regular reader of a great consumer advocate blog, The Consumerist. You can learn quite a bit about consumers via their site. It is scary to see how resourceful many readers are in that they can work complex systems using shared knowledge. The other is how clueless some consumers can be.
This post refers to a tough situation where the recommendation spoiled a Christmas gift for a customer’s wife. I see two problems in this situation. First, the issue of the user leaving his inbox visible for his wife to see is a no-no. If she had access to his email she could easily have gone into his inbox and found the order confirmation anyway. Sorry, brutha, you have to hide that junk.
The other problem is around the concept of when to remember a purchase and then make recommendations. The ability to remove an item easily must be part of the shopping process. I love the ability to see related items that may interest me for my personal decisions, but when it comes to gifts for others I’d rather you just keep those out of my recommendations or provide a separate “gift” recommendation section.
You know the next evolution of this concept is to relate a gift to a user. So if I purchase Art of Tuba and Euphonium for my brother as a gift then our circle of friends and family could know this was purchased and offer recommendations to them based on my purchase. If this isn’t done correctly though it could cause some problems. During his bachelor party someone got him a gag gift that kept us laughing that night until after the reception was over. Nobody would want recommendations based on something like that, trust me.