eGo Sends Customers Directly to Web Sites

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eGo, a new product from Planet Portal, Durham, NC, will enable marketers to get consumers to their Web sites easier and with less clicks of the mouse.


eGo, which will be marketed in-store and is free to consumers through participating retailers starting Feb.1, is a piece of hardware that people can place on their desks next to their keyboards. It will be accompanied by a CD-ROM instructing consumers how to hook it up and download a software version that can be used without the device.


The goal of eGo is to allow consumers to get to their favorite e-commerce and information sites and their e-mail as efficiently as possible. A consumer can be at a site in one click without even having a Web browser open.


"We wanted to address a growing need that is out there," said Brent Kleinheskel, president/CEO of Planet Portal. "Consumers look at the expansion of data and information taking place, and they are looking for a springboard to the Internet and their favorite sites."


The product itself is a flat 6-inch-by-8-inch key pad containing 40 keys that is broken into three different categories: personal, information and e-commerce.


In the e-commerce section, six of the keys will be branded by participating retailers and with one click a consumer will be taken directly to the site. The fifteen other keys will list categories, such as apparel, food, sports gear and travel. By clicking on these buttons, consumers will be provided with a list of the top three retailers in the category according to Planet Portal's research. Consumers have the option of personalizing each of the lists within the e-commerce categories.


The information section contains links to the U.S News Online site, and, like the e-commerce section, a click on either home, top stories, tech or money will provide consumers with a listing of the top sites where they can find the best information in those areas.


The personal section of the key pad allows users to set up a personal calendar, link directly to their e-mail or bank, and be connected to a search engine. They can customize the remaining seven buttons and set up a direct link to their favorite sites in such categories as entertainment, local news and weather.


Once consumers have reached the site they will then have to use their mouse and keyboards to submit information and scroll. But Planet Portal intends to include the scrolling and mouse capabilities on future versions of eGo.


eGo also has a slot where smart cards can be inserted. Once the cards are slid in, eGo recognizes the Web site embedded in the barcode and will link consumers right to the site.


"These cards are eventually going to be marketed to consumers in direct mail pieces and magazines," Kleinheskel said. "And visitors to each site will be tagged so that retailers and Planet Portal will be able to determine just how many unique visitors are visiting the site through eGo."


Kleinheskel said Planet Portal would also monitor the activity and purchasing behavior of its users and provide that information to participating retailers. When users begin using eGo they will have the option of telling Planet Portal whether they want to receive offers from the participating retailers via e-mail or in the mail.


"Companies are then going to be able to use the information we gather and create direct mail programs for our users," Kleinheskel said.


Users can also download a software version of eGo, which will appear on screen, instead of using the physical device.


The company hopes to have 10 million eGo systems in use by the end of next year. n
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