January 19, 2001, 12:00 AM

New shoppers need never be off the web

Don Davis

Editor in Chief

Talk about bridging channels. ShopTalk today said it is launching a voice commerce platform for the telephone and Internet. Using speech recognition, ShopTalkâs platform allows users to shop a web site by phone then switch to the web and pick up where they left off. The platform is integrated with a voice interface from speech recognition leader Nuance. ShopTalk says its enhancements are unique to the industry, including the ability to "toggle" between the phone and web. Because ShopTalk supports the two platforms interchangeably, consumers are able to move back and forth between the phone and web in real-time. Consumers can also "bookmark" selections by voice over the phone and then view them at the ShopTalk website. In addition, they can e-mail their selections from the phone to their e-mail address. "ShopTalk leverages traditional marketing with the most dynamic, interactive part of the web-shopping-and makes it accessible to anyone with a phone," says Eric Linn, CEO and co-founder of ShopTalk. "While the addition of speech recognition adds convenience and enhances the overall experience of the system, what stands out about ShopTalk is that we've taken features unique to the web-the "back" button, and dynamic search, among others-and built them into the phone interface.ä ShopTalk's user base has grown from 40,000 in January to 450,000 today. ShopTalk is a privately held company that has raised over $25 million from venture capital firms, including Maveron, Bay Partners, KB Partners Venture Strategy, Staenberg Venture Capital and Dakota Capital Partners.

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