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Expert Zone > Agents for e-commerce > Page 2

Agents for e-commerce (2)
By Carlo Revelli
CEO of Cybion

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Role of shopping agents

These agents are able to inform you:

  • about the availability of a product, by doing a search by brand-name or category;
  • about the identification of the distributors (localization of a precise distributor, whole or selective lists of distributors).

They do this in various ways:

  • by processing the data collected, for example using comparative tables of the offers according to various criteria:
    • price,
    • services,
    • other consumersí opinions (on a book, a disc, a car...);
  • by establishing an automatic pre-selection of articles, according to the consumer's choices (giving priority to the quality/price ratio, service, opinions of the other consumers...);
  • by carrying out the transaction:
    • automatically (repetitive purchase of a basket of products, purchase as soon as a model is at a reduced price...),
    • semi-automatically (recommendations, suggestions).

    Bargain Finder, conceived by Andersen Consulting, was one of the most widely known prototypes on the Internet. Little by little, more sophisticated agents are emerging. For example, the technology resulting from Jango, integrated thereafter in Excite, makes it possible to seek, compare and buy several different products.

    Firefly was a service providing music and movie recommendations, based on a filtering technology supposed to provide you with relevant information according to your tastes, and those of other people who have a profile similar to yours.

  • The agents controlled by suppliers, sometimes called "intelligent interfaces", follow the same logic. The supplier, faced with a very scattered demand, is obliged to know their customers better and better if they want to satisfy the ever more specific needs. Therefore, many large companiesí sites ask the consumers to describe themselves in order to better understand them. In this manner, each consumer creates a profile where they specify their tastes and needs. This profile gradually gets richer with each transaction and each request for information, and makes it possible to provide a truly personalized offer adapted to the needs of each customer. BroadVision, SelectCast and Autonomy, despite differences in their approach, constitute quite advanced "intelligent interfaces".

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