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Let your computer do the thinking!

If you’re a household shopper who thinks the problem with computers is they don’t understand you, then take heart from this.

There’s now an Internet home shopping site that does the thinking for you — well almost.

And it all makes buying groceries on the Internet faster and easier — thanks to a brand new ‘search engine’ on the Woolworths Home Shopping site.

Woolworths calls it QuickSearch. The company says it is the world’s leading supermarket search engine after testing it against the best in England and the United States.

A search engine is a key part of an Internet site, providing visitors with a short cut direct to the product or area they wish to visit.

QuickSearch uses what computer people call ‘fuzzy logic’ to better identify the product type or brand being sought said Richard Harrison, Woolworths’ electronic commerce director.

Mr Harrison said QuickSearch could even personalise your shopping experience.

“It has the capacity to learn from the words you use to describe products and employs this intelligence to improve its service to you.

“QuickSearch already has a database of common words a customer may use to search for a product. For example if a customer wants French fries but searches for ‘chips’, QuickSearch will give both potato chips and French fries as a result.

“It’s not quite artificial intelligence, but it’s getting close,” says Mr Harrison.

“It works a lot faster and it also makes it much easier to track down the products or brands you’re looking for.”

Mr Harrison said experienced users could now complete their shopping in 15 minutes or less while new customers would be able to halve the time it took to complete their first shop.

E-commerce-savvy Kiwis are being credited for inspiring the Woolworths-developed technology. The company has received more than 30,000 e-mails since it launched 18 months ago.

Feedback had identified dissatisfaction with the search engine as one priority and accepting credit cards as another.

The Woolworths site has been accepting credit cards since last month (April) and Mr Harrison said the site was now right up to customer expectations with the launch of QuickSearch.

Already tens of thousands of New Zealanders are buying groceries online. However expects this number to increase substantially in the next year thanks to the new technology.


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