July 27, 2011, 11:23 AM

TheFind finds multiple ways to tailor results to individual shoppers

Personalization helps make the comparison shopping engine’s results digestible, says an exec.

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Because comparison shopping engine TheFind searches more than 500,000 stores, it’s important not to overwhelm consumers with too many results, says Ron Levi, the company’s vice president of product. That’s why the site uses a variety of techniques to personalize the content it presents. “We want to save consumers the trouble of having to search through 40 pages of results,” says Levi. “And we’ll take any signals we can to help them do so.”

Among the most recent TheFind innovations is to rely on a new Internet phenomenon that has millions of consumers broadcasting their product preferences—the increasingly ubiquitous Facebook Like button.

To do that, the site encourages consumers to personalize their shopping experience by logging in to TheFind.com using their Facebook user names and passwords and allowing TheFind to access the stores and brands the consumer and her Facebook friends have tagged as Likes.

The system, which TheFind.com’s developers designed with Facebook, then sorts search results based on the brands and stores a consumer and her Facebook friends Like. When she clicks on an item, the preview product window shows the names and photos of friends in her network that Like the product or brand. The window also displays how many Facebook friends that brand or retailer has on its own Facebook page. The Facebook Like button appears so that the consumer can add herself as a fan of the brand or store.

Even if a consumer is one of the roughly 75% of consumers who do not use their Facebook log-in on the site, the site’s default uses the broader Facebook community to help determine the order of its results. Retailers with more Likes generally appear higher in the results. When a consumer mouses over an item the site displays how many consumers Like the retailer. “There are enough retailers on Facebook that we feel like we can treat it as a store rating system,” says Ron Levi, the company’s vice president of product.

The site also uses a consumer’s IP address to present her with localized results when she clicks on the site’s Local tab. The tool, which works even if she isn’t signed in, is sometimes right, and sometimes it isn’t, says Levi. However, having it automatically set up—and having an Edit button that allows the user to change the location—encourages consumers to interact with the site. “We want people to connect with us,” he says. “It’s a gateway to getting people to share more.”

The site also uses a cookie to gather a consumer’s previous search results to populate the site’s MyFinds tab, which highlights previous search results.

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