PublicationsFrom: Gregory Piatetsky-Shapiro gps
Date: Mon, 18 Dec 2000 17:30:32 -0500
Subject: ZDNet on Personalization, the old-fashioned way
Making it personal Old-fashioned marketing is catching on as Web sites talk more with their customers
ZDNet, By Dennis Callaghan, eWEEK November 27, 2000 12:00 AM ET
There's an arms race on the Web personalization space as vendors of rules-based, collaborative filtering and self-learning artificial intelligence applications jostle for position. The goal: to have the best technology to deliver the right offer at the right time to the right customer.
But despite all the talk about how best to personalize a customer's Web site experience—through if-then scenarios, by comparing new customers' behavior with past customers', or through AI for predictive analysis—many sites are taking a more old-fashioned tack. They're talking to their customers.
Catalog apparel retailer Lands' End Inc., after flirting with collaborative filtering, a personalization technology based on a complex statistical algorithm that makes product recommendations based on the purchasing patterns of other consumers who behaved similarly at the site, launched a new feature last month called My Personal Shopper.
My Personal Shopper shows customers different outfits side by side and asks them which one they prefer. It also asks customers what type of clothing they're looking for, for what use, and what colors and fabrics they like. Then it takes that information and makes recommendations accordingly.
"It's a totally new way of recommending products online," said Terry Nelson, the Dodgeville, Wis., company's e-commerce marketing manager. "We put the customer in control of the experience. They don't have to buy something from us for us to make recommendations to them. They tell us what things they're interested in, what their preferences are, and we map our products to them."
That effort doesn't stop with My Personal Shopper. Lands' End also uses virtual models on its site that customers can customize to their looks and measurements, to get some idea of how the clothes might look on them. And it's even rolling out scanning stations across the country, where customers can have their exact measurements scanned by laser and uploaded to the site.
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