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How To Shop for Your Girlfriend – With Math!

Elaine Russell, founder of Heirlume.co, explains the formulas hidden in her e-commerce jewelry site.


Photo: Edward Mallia/ Getty Images | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2014

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“80% of fine jewelry is purchased by men for women, which is interesting considering that when we interviewed men the vast majority admitted they don’t really know what they’re doing. For our site we’ve partnered with independent designers around the country and set up all the algorithms to match them with a piece that’s personalized for their girl.”

Pick A Picture
“When a man enters the site he will be prompted to answer eight lifestyle-based questions about the woman he’s shopping for using primarily visuals, which our tests have shown men can actually able answer with ease. The photos are accompanied by one or two words (we found any more text than that was too much work for them). The questions touch on her favorite type of date night, typical hairstyle, and celebrity style icon.”

Let The Data Run
“We’ve been able to form correlations between our lifestyle questions and women’s shopping and purchasing behaviors, which is where all of our data comes from. We use correlation analysis and regression analysis to form a proprietary algorithm that runs on the site after a guy answers the questions. This will match them with nine pieces of jewelry for their girl.”

Survey The Selection
“We have metadata behind all of the pieces of inventory on our site. Its tags go I on the backend of our site, like ‘dainty’ or ‘gold’ and other terms like that. We take it even a few steps deeper and create rankings on each piece. Based on the questions and correlation analysis that we have for our surveys we are able to use an algorithm match up the highest-ranking thing to the highest correlating questions.  When we know something is dainty, we also know it is high on the dainty scale or middle or low. This allows everything to become more personalized.”

Use A Lifeline
“Since a guy may need a little more help, he can then ask his or her friends or family to pick their favorites. He can then view all the analytics behind their selection: which piece got the most votes, which got ruled out, and any other comments the voters want to leave.”

Click A Button
“Once he’s ready, all he has to do is hit the ‘purchase’ button. The piece will arrive in less than five days and comes already packaged and ready to gift, which is great so a guy doesn’t have to go through the hassle of making it look presentable. He won’t have to answer any questions about it either since the jewelry comes with an ‘about the designer’ card. Everyone wins!”


Check out Maxim's 2014 Valentine's Gift Guide and Valentine's Day Advice From Maxim's Hometown Hotties.