Carol is interested in purchasing a new computer and she visits, an electronics retailer. Carol is a first-time visitor to this site. After entering a few keywords to search the site and after browsing through several of the pages she selects the model she is interested in. Carol adds a printer to her virtual shopping cart and continues browsing. The observational personalization system used by the electronics store compares her point of entry to the site, the keywords she used in her initial search, her clickstream within the corporate site, and the contents of her shopping cart to the navigational patterns of existing customers already in [the] firm’s database. Through this comparison, the system fits Carol into the “young mother” profile that it developed by mining the Web navigation logs generated by previous visitors and existing customers. Accordingly, the recommendation engine offers Carol a discounted educational software package before she checks out. Carol was, in fact, not a young mother, but a middle-aged divorcée. She purchased the computer and printer she was interested in, but did not find the time management software she actually wanted to buy. A bit frustrated, Carol leaves the site in search of the software she needs. At about the same time, Steve entered the site and selected the same computer and printer. Although he chose the same products as Carol, Steve did not receive the same offer for discounted educational software. He entered the site from a different portal than that used by Carol; he had a different clickstream pattern from hers, and he used different terms in his keyword search. Steve’s navigational pattern resulted in his being assigned to a different profile. Steve fit best into the “college student” profile and, as a result, he was offered a discount on a statistical software package. In fact, Steve is an English major. Like Carol, Steve’s projected needs did not accurately match his real needs.

Is doing anything wrong?

What, if any, information would help you decide whether the company is doing anything wrong?