An app to make gift giving easier

TORONTO Mon Mar 26, 2012 6:39am EDT

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TORONTO (Reuters) - Whether it's choosing the right present, selecting the proper size or style, or digging up a current mailing address, gift giving can be difficult.

Karma, a new app for iPhone and Android, aims to simplify the process with its service that lets people send gifts instantly via SMS, email or Facebook.

The app recommends gifts based on the recipient's demographic profile and interests, which it garners from Facebook. After a notification of the gift is sent, the receiver enters their mailing address, along with other personal preferences that are relevant to the gift they will be receiving, whether it's the size, style or color.

"You can open up Karma and, literally in under 60 seconds, the person you're thinking of will get your card, see your gift, can pick it out and have that fun, and then say ‘Thank You,'" said Lee Linden, the co-founder of Karma.

"I can send someone a sweatshirt without knowing their size, or a bottle of wine without knowing if they want Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot or Zinfandel. And the recipient can enter where they want it shipped to, maybe it's their office because there's a doorman there, their home, or vacation home. It's their choice," he said.

Gifts available on the app include wine, electronics, and fashion.

"We know that you're giving a gift to a 33-year-old man for his birthday, and we can figure out great products for someone of that demographic. We can see what he likes on Facebook or what other people are choosing for men of that age," he said.

Karma allows the recipient to change not only the color, size or style of a gift, but also the gift itself before it is shipped. There's also the option to donate the value of the present to a partner charity.

The app also provides notifications on events occurring in the lives of friends in social networks using semantic analysis, algorithms that can detect the meaning behind text, and allows users to send gifts before submitting credit card information.

"We're trying to think about e-commerce in a new way and each piece is worth reconsidering," explained Linden. "Payment is a big pain point."

Linden said the company also provides companies with demographic targeting and advertising via social networks.

Similar apps include Wrapp and Giiv, which have a focus on gift cards.

(Reporting by Natasha Baker; editing by Patricia Reaney)

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