Information access software provider Endeca Technologies and Allurent, which sells e-commerce technology, are partnering on an integrated e-commerce solution.
The companies May 6 announced a reseller deal whereby Endeca will market and sell the Allurent Rich Interface module.
"Online, you have the customers [as offline] but with a couple of different rules," said Matt Eichner, senior vice president of strategic development for Endeca. "To use an offline comparison for the typical online shopping experience, it's been like walking into a home improvement retailer, saying you're looking for a faucet, and having the clerk drop 500 faucets on the floor and saying, -Good luck.'"
Eichner said the Rich Interface module allows e-retailers to offer customers an online shopping experience that more closely matches-and in some ways exceeds-the experience they would normally have shopping in a brick-and-mortar store.
"Normally, a clerk will provision your request for a product by talking you through it," he said. "We can replicate that experience dynamically online by reorganizing all the available SKUs for each individual customer and continuing to reorganize them according to their requests. It's as if you had a series of cranes and floor trucks that reconfigured a store on the spot as you walked through it."
Eichner said the Rich Interface module can tailor not just how e-commerce inventory is arranged for a customer, but how it looks.
"You can wrap customers as closely as possible in the brand experience," he said.
Endeca provides the engine that powers dynamic inventory reconfiguration, Eichner said, while Allurent technology enables sophisticated online branding.
"Allurent maximizes the usage of the Web browser so customers are more likely to see what they want to purchase," he said.
Eichner said the Rich Interface module allows e-retailers to create tailored dynamic store wraps and handle merchandising and tracking tasks in a way that is flexible, cost-effective and minimizes risk.
"It would cost millions of dollars to try and develop this functionality by hand, not to mention hundreds of millions of dollars in lost sales opportunity," he said. "And if online retailing evolves beyond your initial expectation, you've got the right architecture in place to adapt quickly."
Brian Walker, an analyst at Forrester Research, said there is a lot of industry experimentation involving rich Internet applications.
"Our data shows investment in product content, and optimizing how consumers digest that content is a top priority of e-commerce retailers," Walker said. "Any [IT vendor] who can make that easier is likely to see some adoption as retailers continue optimizing the online shopping experience."
He cautioned that retailers are still experimenting with how to optimize the presentation and delivery of online product content.
"We haven't yet determined the best ways to implement this kind of capability," he said.
The Allurent Rich Interface module's technology base includes the Allurent Navigation and Details tools and the Endeca Information Access platform.
Dan Berthiaume covers the retail space for eWEEK. For more industry news, check out eWEEK.com's Retail Site.