Services Keep Customers Connected

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As the race for e-commerce business heats up, companies such as Lumapath Inc. and Zack Network Inc. are devising new ways for online retailers to undercut their competition.


Lumapath has a new service that allows consumers to comparison shop across a range of sites, while Zack Network will offer one-better discounts to drive business to the participating retailer's site.


In Lumapath's case, the product is called Take Us With You. Released after nine months of beta testing, the product is a free downloadable toolbar that constantly maintains a connection to e-tailer sites that have partnered with Lumapath. The user can store up to 18 sites.


"What we do is allow our partners to let their consumer take the site with them wherever they are on the Internet," said Andy Gelfond, chief technology officer at Lumapath, Maynard, MA.


Consumers can go to www.takeuswithyou.com or visit a Lumapath partner's site to download the feature that normally appears as a tab on the marketer's homepage. Once the tab's clicked on, the software quickly downloads and adds a tool bar at the bottom of the browser.


If a consumer has downloaded the Take Us With You function from Lumapath client MuseumShop.com, that site's page is specially adapted and captured in the tool. Every time the consumer visits a site that has relevant content or commerce, the MuseumShop tab lights up to inform that it has similar art merchandise or information to offer.


"We're providing infrastructure for online brands to bring contextual commerce, content and community to those consumers," said Bob Zurek, president/CEO of Lumapath.


Besides MuseumShop, companies who have or will incorporate this comparison tool include CouponSurfer.com, Gomez Advisors Inc., Spree.com, Internet Wire, Zagat.com, Domania.com, RX Remedy Inc. and MVP.com.


For retailers, the Take Us With You function allows them to get in front of the consumer's eyes while he or she is shopping elsewhere.


Zack Network's new dynamic pricing mechanism has the same aim of Lumapath's: Allow the retailer to get in front of the consumer's eyes while he or she is shopping elsewhere.


Online retailer buy.com, in fact, is close to inking a deal with Zack, San Mateo, CA. Once up and running, Zack Network's service will allow consumers to quickly download its software from www.zack.com or www.buy.com for a slight reconfiguration of the user's browser. Every time the user visits a buy.com rival's site, a window will pop up with an even better discount from buy.com.


This way, the online marketer can offer better bargains, product or service information, or gauge customer satisfaction through surveys.

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