Improve Ecommerce Product Recommendations, Get $1M


It’s no secret that enterprise ecommerce is always looking to make gains when it comes to improving site recommendations based on customer specific data and buyer behavior. But while the debate over privacy continues, one internet retailer is aiming to further enhance the power of the information they collect.

With revenue exceeding $1 billion dollars for the first time ever last year, is turning its recent gains into prospective future growth. The company is putting up cash for a contest to see who can develop an algorithm capable of boosting the site’s existing product recommendations by 10%. The purse: $1,000,000.

The enterprise ecommerce retailer teamed up for the contest with RichRelevance, a Bay Area company that specializes in personalization and provides products, content and offers for their clients, one of which happens to be Overstock. The two companies have been doing business since 2009.

The contest, called the RecLab Prize, is targeted at the academic community, but is open to anyone, and will be conducted using a synthetic dataset through the RichRelevance RecLab project, an open source cloud environment that will allow teams to code, run and validate algorithm tests without ever exposing real user data to an outside system.

Final rounds of the competition slated for early next year will be able to test on a small amount of’s actual traffic before a winner is announced.

The total prize amount will be gauged by the percentage of improvement over the existing Overstock product recommendation results (which are powered by RichRelevance), so if the highest increase is 5%, the winner will receive $500,000. As an added incentive, the contest is also offering up to an additional $250,000 (or 25% of the grand prize amount) to any educational institution associated with the winning team. Computer researchers ought to put on their thinking hats.



Jared Matkin is a staff writer for HotWax Media with a background in PR, Branding and Marketing. He’s also a light-hearted and an opinionated character who will join other HotWax Media employees and advisers in periodically posting his thoughts on topics ranging from enterprise eCommerce to business and technology.

DATE: May 19, 2011
AUTHOR: HotWax Systems
Enterprise eCommerce, Jared Matkin