May 28, 2002, 12:00 AM

BN.com adopts new search-and-browse technology

Barnes&Noble.com introduced the Endeca-powered BookBrowser, which incorporates a browsing function with Barnes&Noble`s proprietary categorization intiative.

Upstart site search provider Endeca has landed another high-profile online retailer. Barnes & Noble.com today introduced the Endeca-powered BookBrowser, which combined with the book store`s proprietary categorization intiative that organizes its book database, is expected to help consumers find more detailed information about books they are interested in. While the company did not disclose projections, Barnes and Noble believes that the new tool will increase conversion rates, the average order size and overall sales. "The BookBrowser will have impact on sales because it is a superior way to navigate our catalog," says Daniel Blackman, vice president of books, music and video at Barnes & Noble.com.

Barnes & Noble.com says the new browse function re-creates--and improves upon-- the real-world bookstore experience. "`Our customers have told us they want to browse online with the ease that they already enjoy in our stores. BookBrowser meets those needs," said Marie J. Toulantis, CEO of Barnes & Noble.com. "For the first time, book buyers have a simple yet powerful tool at their disposal to shop in a bookstore with millions of titles."

The addition of the browse function allows Barnes & Noble.com to categorize books in more than one section, making it easier for customers to find books, the company says. The service will allow customers to explore books in more than 400,000 categories, Barnes & Noble.com says. The new BookBrowser tool expands the list of top-level subjects from 25 to 50, allowing for more detailed results, says Blackman. There are three ways the BookBrowser helps improve the browsing experience for users: by allowing them to drill down into book categories, by filtering and refining books by such metadata as release date, price, author, publisher and other details, and also by cross-referencing related books and other subjects, says Blackman.

Biographies of business executives, for instance, could appear in the Business section, Biography section or in sections that deal with the executive’s area of expertise, such as marketing or engineering.

Phase two of the Endeca implementation will continue to integrate the search and browse functions, allowing search results to be displayed based on the customer’s search term. Alternatives results will be displayed as well. The privately held Endeca brought its Guided Navigation product to market last year with an installation at TowerRecords.com. Since that time, other major search providers have added browse functions to their search results.

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