May 15, 2003, 12:00 AM

Web services to make sophisticated site search more common, Mercado says

Web services will begin to offer a less costly way to replace expensive, difficult to implement integration projects that retailers need to make site search functions work well with merchandising applications, CEO Menachen Cohen says.

Before the end of this year, web services technology will become more commonly deployed in web site search engines, making it faster and far less costly for e-retailers to build more sophisticated search functions, Menachen Cohen, CEO of Mercado Software, tells

"Being able to provide unified search for multiple business applications across multiple and inconsistent data sources is where we see the future of enterprise search," Cohen says. For example, web services will make it easier and far less costly to connect a site search function to a merchandising tool that recommends additional products, he adds.

Web services, which use Internet protocol standards to enable network applications to automatically push and pull data between them, will replace common search functions that rely on legacy system connections among different applications and databases, Mercado says.

Many retailers today rely on very expensive back-end integration to implement sophisticated search functions that tie in with merchandising applications, such as when a search for a particular brand and model of DVD player shows that product but also recommends a lists of more expensive DVD players.

Some retailers will build several integration links for the search function, such as to also connect with customer service applications. But this can result in low-quality of integration, making it more difficult for consumers to link from one application to another, says Yaron Dycian, director of marketing for Mercado.

"Now we`ll be able to move to a single, high-end search application, because of the advantages web services will bring," he says.

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