IBM introduces Web 2.0 solution with real-time re-merchandising

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PALM DESERT, CA - IBM Corp. is looking to advance retailers' use of Web 2.0 technology with its WebSphere Commerce 2.0 Store Solution.

The Armonk, NY-based company billed WebSphere Commerce 2.0 as the first end-to-end Web 2.0 commerce solution at the eTail conference last week.

It is going to "revolutionize how retailers interact with customers," said Errol Denger, senior strategist at WebSphere Commerce.

The solution effectively "mirrors the in-store shopping experience" with such features as product pages that graphically re-merchandise in real time based on a customer's preferences.

So if someone is looking at a page of patio tables and decides to narrow the search to tables in the $100 to $150 range, any tables that don't meet this criterion will disappear and those that do will rearrange to fill the top of the page, all in real time.

Shoppers can drag and drop desired merchandise into the checkout box. Once they do that, complementary product suggestions automatically appear on the same page. They can also drag and drop items into a product comparison feature, which compares two items based on a variety of characteristics.

Once a shopper is ready to complete an order, the checkout feature drops down on the same page.

IBM is currently testing the solution with three retailers. Others have expressed interest in bits and pieces of the solution, Mr. Denger said.

"Retailers are investing in and actively exploring Web 2.0 technology," he said. However, deploying something as new as WebSphere Commerce 2.0 requires rethinking the entire design of a Web site. As a result, some retailers are interested only in the checkout or other individual features at this time.

Meanwhile, IBM announced a new partnership with BazaarVoice to offer its customers the ability to include their personal reviews. The arrangement includes the leveraging of Coremetrics technology to provide analytics for the reviews.

"We feel customer reviews are very important," Mr. Denger said.

One reason for this is that products with a breadth of customer reviews attached to them see higher conversion, he said.

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