Today, Walmart launched a Facebook app called Shopycat, which is designed to make gift giving “less stressful and more fun,” says the @Walmart Labs blog. (See the previous SCT post on the topic.)

Using the app involves two steps. First, Shopycat looks at your Facebook friends and analyzes their activity on the social network, including things like likes, shares and posts, then determines what types of gifts they would most likely want based on those interests.

The app then searches through a large product database to find what it surfaces as the right gift. Gift selection is not limited to Walmart either, but includes sites such as Barnes & Noble, RedEnvelope, ThinkGeek, and Hot Topic. One could surmise that it will search its own catalog first before suggesting gifts from other stores, however.

Once a product has been identified, Shopycat simplifies the purchase process by facilitating the transaction with a single click.

The app provides a search form that allows users to type a friend’s name or and interest to see gift recommendations. My own experience in attempting to use the search function resulted in a failure to identify friends or associate friends with interests.

I don’t know if that means that only Shopycat user’s appear, or that it is supposed to reveal all of my friends. The app also threw up some error messages (“There was a problem with the network. Please try refreshing the page.”) when attempting to click on product listings, so perhaps some fine-tuning is necessary to work out the kinks.

“Shopycat is a first step in an effort to “reinvent gift-giving for the way we live now,” said Walmart SVP global e-commerce Venky Harinarayan. “At Walmart, we see social commerce fueling the next generation of e-commerce where online and retail stores bring a continuous shopping experience to millions of users. We plan to continue experimenting with products as we build new social apps over the coming year.”

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