/// What You Can Learn About Online Shoppers by Watching Them

March 19, 2013  |  All Things Digital


People who shop between midnight and 1 am are twice as likely to be fraudsters, according to aggregate retailer data from Sift Science . Shutterstock/ Andy Dean Photography (No, officer, don’t profile me — I swear I was just doing some relaxing retail therapy before drifting off to sleep.) While you can shop online from the seeming privacy of your home, many retailers are keeping track of your every move. And in aggregate, data about online shoppers show some interesting trends and habits that startups are emerging to track on behalf of retailers. This morning, I covered the launch of Sift Science , a brainy startup from ex-Googlers that’s applying machine learning to detect fraud patterns in online retail. Sift Science co-founder Brandon Ballinger told me that during beta testing with services like Airbnb and Uber, his company had observed a million different signals that flag any one buyer as a potential fraudster. For instance, beware of people who try to buy something with a Yahoo email account — they’re twice as likely as the norm to be fraudsters –but users of AOL and Outlook.com email domains are much more likely to be safe. In a similar vein, I recently met the founder of Commerce Sciences , Aviv Revach, whose company tries to apply behavioral science to increase sales on e-commerce sites. The company supplies a overlaid bar for online stores that is personalized based on observations about an individual user’s visit — for instance, browser type, mouse movement patterns and the specificity of a search term. “There’s so much that science knows about us that business doesn’t use,” Revach said. For example, he pointed to theories of “hedonic” versus “utilitarian” tendencies in consumer consumption, where it might be more effective to have an entirely different shopping experience for something fun versus something functional. More specifically, Commerce Sciences can recognize signals that a certain user at a certain time is more driven by sales, or more influenced by his or her friend’s opinions. Then it reformats the bar to push that angle.

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What You Can Learn About Online Shoppers by Watching Them

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