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2. Robots

Comparison Shoppers

In the chapter on intelligent agents, the concept of shopping assistants was included within the family of access providers, since they are set to become your permanent and indispensable Internet connection assistant (when they offer the entire service described earlier in this guide). For the moment, however, the vast majority of intelligent agents are extremely limited in the services they provide, and can't truly claim to be access providers. For this reason the comparison shopping systems are included among the secondary service providers.

The idea being to create value for the customer, they are frequently becoming intermediaries between bookshops as clients seeking the cheapest books, and the distributors such as Books On Line, Barnes & Nobles or Amazon. This is what allows the company which manages Acses to take between 7% and 8% commission of the total purchases by bookshops as a result of its intervention. These comparison shopping systems' business concepts deserve a closer look, as the system of commissions results in complications at several levels. On the one hand, as has already been pointed out earlier, the comparison shoppers run the risk of finding themselves on the horns of a dilemma : certain distributors will pay them better than others, which is bound to influence their recommendations and affect their objectivity, which is, after all, their main asset for the customer. Perhaps the agent will neglect to consult the catalogue of a very cheap online bookstore which has chosen not to pay the agent any commission. Personally, I think a compromise will be found : the basic service offered by Acses is to find a book at the best possible price on Internet. Experience has show that it is not essential for Acses to contact all the bookshops on Internet to find the cheapest price. It only needs to contact several dozen of them to accomplish its basic mission (find the cheapest price). In addition, the notion of the cheapest price should itself be treated with caution, if we are talking about it from the user's point of view. Finding a bookshop which offers a book for three dollars less than the others is a real service. This is what makes the difference and what justifies the Acses's existence.

A few examples of comparison shoppers :

Book Boulevard-http://www.bookblvd.com/
Book Shopper Agent-http://www.agentsoft.com/demos/applet/bookshop.html

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If you enjoyed this site, we obviously share values: we have written it in 1999 !

We haven't updated it online as the vision still is more and more relevant: the more the internet matures, the closer it gets to our vision.

We still believe in innovation, creativity, rigour and results control.

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