Horizon CDT Research Highlights

Research Highlights

Revisiting the Recommender System from Consumer Perspectives

  Sicen Liu (2014 cohort)   www.nottingham.ac.uk/~psxsl9

This study conducted research from the consumer perspective of commercial recommender system online, to explore the potential correlation between the accuracy of a product recommended by the system and the probability of purchase by the costumers online. From the aspect of a consumer motivation, the research obtained the data from a real E-commerce website, and use theory of UTAUT2 to deduce and rebuild a consumer motivation model. By refilling and testing the model with a big set of data, we made regression of the transparent model, and finally revealed how to improve a recommender system in correlation with its recommending accuracy. This study in aimed to cover the research gap of finding the exact degree of accuracy for an online recommender system at the maximum of increasing the probability of shopping online, rather from the aspect of only algorithm but from the perspective of consumer motivation, to build a practical model. In terms of that, the research planed to use the UTAUT2 model as the basic theory, and moderate it into a extensional model accordingly.
In real experiment of using a recommender system, it also requires the consumer to conduct input and there follows the output accordingly. See the Recommender System Operation in Fig. 3. . In terms of the sequence of inputs and outputs, we can divide the motivation into Accurate Motive and Ambiguous Motive. In other words, the Accurate Motive means the key words of inputs by the consumers, which exactly express the intention of a purchasing. For example, on the traveling E-commerce website, the consumer with the intention to go to the Maldives, a beautiful tropical island, input “Maldives”, which uncloses the exact purchasing purpose. And in this occasion, the setting of parameters could be displayed as the different results of “Maldives” (absolute accuracy), “ Hainan Island”(a similar tropical island, relatively high accuracy), “Guilin” (a tropical inland city, relatively low accuracy). As for the Ambiguous Motive, the input of the consumer can only reveal a rough picture of the desirable products, and the key words can be derivative from noun to adjectives, one to several. Taking the same traveling E-commerce website as well, when a consumer type in the keywords of “ island, relaxation, tropic”, the picture can be drawn into a tropic island with beautiful sunshine and suitable for a relaxing vacation. In accordance of different degrees of accuracy, the recommendations are respectively “Maldives” (a beautiful tropical island, relatively high accuracy), “Hong Kong” (a tropical island, suitable for shopping instead of relaxation, relatively medium accuracy), “Beijing” (a big temperate inland city, suitable for sightseeing rather than relaxation, relatively low accuracy).

Just described above, accuracy is tested as the parameters, and thus to build the transparent consumer model. We attempt to obtain the data from the real E-commerce website. With the huge set of data, we are able to refill the revised UTAUT2 model and therefore to the conclusion of the hypothesis we can make.


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This work was carried out at the International Doctoral Innovation Centre (IDIC). The authors acknowledge the financial support from Ningbo Education Bureau, Ningbo Science and Technology Bureau, China's MOST, and the University of Nottingham. The work is also partially supported by EPSRC grant no EP/L015463/1.