October 1, 2002, 12:00 AM

Wine.com re-launches with new gift and search features

Wine.com allows users to upload address lists from databases or personal PDAs. It also allows customers to search through 3,000 wines from 15 countries.

Kurt Peters

Executive Editor

Wine.com has re-launched its web site featuring a new gift function, better search and new merchandising options.

Wine.com`s new Corporate Gift Center allows users to upload address lists from their company`s address databases or from their personal PDAs. They can then make purchases for the entire list online by clicking on the product and clicking on the recipient`s name. The database automatically fills the appropriate fields with name and address. The system also allows customers to send the same product and message to all recipients with only a couple of clicks. Wine.com can accept up to 2,000 names and addresses.

Wine.com also has implemented new search technology from EasyAsk Inc. The new "Wine Search" allows users to search through 3,000 wines from wineries and vineyards in 15 countries.

The technology corrects for misspellings and gives users the ability to browse through related listings to find the product they want, Peter Ekman, Wine.com`s president, says. "Wine is intimdating because there are a lot of strange names and half of them are in French," he says. "Even those of us who work in the industry spell the names wrong half the time."

Wine.com had been using a home-grown search with an earlier version of EasyAsk`s product. That version was limited in that it allowed shoppers to search on "French wine," for instance, but not on any regions, Ekman says.

EasyAsk and Wine.com developed the search function together to create a wine search engine. The technology has been in place for about a month and Ekman says it`s too soon to tell if the improved search has boosted sales.

Each wine listing contains winemaker`s notes, customer reviews and a personalization feature that indicates what other wines the customer might like though a real-time analysis of what other customers with similar tastes have also purchased.

The new Wine.com also includes clubs and packaged purchases. Wine club gifts range from $19.95 to $69.95 per month and collections of three or six wines range from $34.99 to $ $179.99.



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