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Wal-Mart Gives to Get With Shopycat

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) - Wal-Mart (WMT - Get Report) has launched its Shopycat Facebook application just as the holiday gift-giving season kicks into high gear.

"Gifting is not done well on the web today," says Venky Harinarayan, senior vice president of e-commerce and founder of @WalmartLabs. "Two people are involved in gifting -- the gifter and giftee -- and generally you don't have enough information about the giftee to create personalized ideas."

"Gifting is inherently social," Harinarayan says. "The information is right there on social networks."

Shopycat taps into users' interests, comments, likes and circle of friends to infer gift recommendations. If the application cannot find a gift that matches a user's profile from Wal-Mart, it will even look to other retailers. In a demo, Shopycat recommended a product from competitor Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY).

"The application is looking to satisfy the customer experience," Harinarayan says. "If we do that we will make revenue out of it."

Shopycat is the latest endeavor from @WalmartLabs, a division born out of Wal-Mart's acquisition of Kosmix in April. The team of developers, computer engineers and researchers are working at putting the discount giant at the forefront of e-commerce, social and mobile shopping, areas where it has typically lagged competitors.

Earlier in the month, @WalmartLabs introduced an iPhone and iPad application that utilize budgeting and list tools, camera functionality and coupons to facilitate seamless shopping for users.

- Reported by Jeanine Poggi in New York.

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