A cautionary tale for etailers and customers alike…
A dear friend of mine was shopping for bits for his boat and typed ‘Harken’ into Ebay. Harken are a big manufacturer of boat bits. Seems ok, so far.
Scrolling down on the second page of results, he stumbled across a boat bit he’d never seen before. Being an inquisitive type, he clicked on it and was a little shocked when he realised it wasn’t for use on a boat, but for use somewhere altogether less… nautical.
That evening, our friend was in the pub with mates from his local sailing club and mentioned what he’d stumbled across when searching for Harken products online. Whipping out his smartphone, he went to Ebay again to show what he’d found. Oh how the hours flew by as they speculated what this item might be used for on a boat.
And here’s the crunch… over the next few weeks he went on to show many people this anomaly in the Ebay search results, merrily clicking on the mystery item hundreds, if not thousands of times.
Ebay’s product recommendation smarts have of course noticed this behaviour, to the point where Ebay believes our friend is really interested in this type of ‘exotic’ sailing kit. The ‘Other items you might be interested in..’ emails into the family computer have led to some fairly tense conversations with his wife who’s now convinced that his sailing trips are a cover for his ‘alternative lifestyle activities’.
There’s a moral in this tale for both customers and managers of ecom websites.