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HEARD ON THE BEAT / TECHNOLOGY

Offline Technology

October 19, 1998|JONATHAN GAW

In a rare instance of a technology developed for the Internet migrating to the offline world, Net Perceptions last week unveiled a collaborative-filtering recommendation engine designed for call centers that is being piloted at three companies, including Los Angeles-based Pink Dot.

Collaborative-filtering software compares one person's responses or purchases to those of a universe of customers and, in real time, determines what new products or services would most likely interest that person. Previously, collaborative filtering had been employed only in Web-based stores such as Amazon.com and CDnow.

Pink Dot, a service that promises delivery of groceries in half an hour; Fingerhut Cos., one of the nation's largest catalog companies; and Rivertown Trading, another consumer catalog company, will use the software to suggest to customers additional products they might be interested in after they've placed their orders.

"Doing it on the Web is great, but most business isn't done on the Web; it's either done on the premises or over a telephone," said Steve Larsen, Net Perceptions' vice president of marketing and business development.

Future applications could include making recommendations or printing coupons while a person is checking out at the store's register.

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