September 8, 2003, 12:00 AM

Endeca and EasyAsk announce new customer signings

EasyAsk announced that women’s apparel retailer Ann Taylor has selected EasyAsk to power search at AnnTaylor.com while Endeca Technologies reported that KBToys.com has selected Endeca for KBToys.com and eToys.com.

The market for site search technology remains extremely competitive, and so technology providers never miss a chance to trumpet their latest customer wins. Two competitors announced significant customer signings today. EasyAsk Inc., one of the oldest providers of site search technology, announced that women’s apparel retailer Ann Taylor has selected EasyAsk to power search at AnnTaylor.com. Relative newcomer Endeca Technologies Inc. reported that KBToys.com has selected Endeca for KBToys.com and eToys.com. Both offer a search-and-browse function that displays search results but also allows the shopper to browse results based on a variety of criteria.

EasyAsk reports that Ann Taylor also is employing its merchandising and analytics dashboard, which provides a web-based tool for analyzing shopping behavior and search patterns and updating product attribute information. Previously, managers depended upon IT assistance to hard-code the necessary merchandising rules for such updates, EasyAsk says.

"EasyAsk will play a key role in helping Ann Taylor deliver a smarter online store--one that dynamically responds to our customers` needs and interests," said an Ann Taylor spokesperson. "We`re also looking forward to leveraging EasyAsk`s technology so that it complements our more traditional marketing channels. For example, with EasyAsk`s merchandising dashboard, our merchandising managers can easily link the concepts we promote in our stores and direct mail campaigns, such as professional suits, with tangible items. Customers can then search on concepts, rather than on individual products, for a more sophisticated and holistic shopping experience."

In addition to its web site, Ann Taylor operates 603 stores in 42 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico

Endeca says its InFront product will allow KBtoys.com to merchandise related items based on navigation paths selected by the customer. Customers will be presented with promotional items relevant to their search, and the option to further refine their searches to discover sometimes overlooked merchandise, Endeca says.

"Because we offer thousands of toys in our online store, our customers need the most efficient search engine available. We know customers have a high probability of purchasing an item if they can find it quickly and easily," said KBtoys.com COO Michael J. Wagner. "Endeca InFront was the solution that integrated search, navigation and merchandising functionality in one package."

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