Service a gift to shoppers

An interactive Christmas gift selection service that ran Nov. 22 - Dec. 24 at Toronto's Eaton Centreis helpful for shoppers who don't know what to buy.But it also collects valuable data on shoppers that can be used by retailers in their...

An interactive Christmas gift selection service that ran Nov. 22 – Dec. 24 at Toronto’s Eaton Centreis helpful for shoppers who don’t know what to buy.

But it also collects valuable data on shoppers that can be used by retailers in their marketing programs.

Eaton Centre director of marketing, Melanie Diamond, says when shoppers use Compugift they are asked some personal and lifestyle questions, which, if the user is willing to volunteer the information, are entered into the computer.

However, she says Shoppers can use the Selectors without divulging information about themselves.

Profile

To use a Selector, someone looking for a gift tells the operator the age, sex and lifestyle of the recipient and how much he or she wants to spend.

The computer then searches its database and prints a list of 40 gift suggestions. A second search of the database produces a second list, and so on. A shopper using the service can also ask for suggestions by product category.

Diamond says, collected and assessed, the information about gift buyers and recipients could be used in direct mail, promotions and other marketing opportunities.

She says figuring out the data should be complete by the end of this month and it will eventually be shared with retailers in the Eaton Centre.

John Winter, a Toronto retail consultant, is not impressed with Compugift.

Winter says he has seen the technology at trade shows, and adds, in theory, it should work.

But he says since the Eaton Centre project is its first practical test he has no idea if it is working well.

Winter suggests the Selectors will work better in larger rather than smaller malls because of increased choice, but adds even in that case all the accumulated data will provide are profiles of people who have no idea what to buy for somebody else.

May expand

Diamond says if the Eaton Centre project is successful, Compugift Selectors might be installed in more of Cadillac Fairview’s 55 shopping centres.

She says there are almost 4,000 gift ideas in the Compugift database, all suggested by retailers in the downtown centre.

She says retailers were asked that their gift information be occasional rather than day-to-day.

For example, she says buying a sweater might be commonplace, but buying a sequined sweater for the holiday season is not.

Diamond says four days before Christmas Eve 10,000 shoppers had used the Selector service.

The Eaton Centre is owned by Cadillac Fairview, T. Eaton Company and the Toronto-Dominion Bank.