Comparison shopping agent
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Comparison-Shopping agents, also called shopbots, are Web-based intelligent software applications that can help online shoppers find lower price for commodities or services. Price comparison services was the earliest service a comparison-shopping agent provides. To search the price of a particular item, a comparison-shopping agent would search multiple online stores based on the keyword the online shopper provides. The keyword could be an ISBN number of a book or something like "iPod."
The first widely recognized comparison-shopping agent was BargainFinder developed by then Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) and its SmartStore center in 1995 for an experiment.
- it is an example of Semantic web
- They rely on wrappers: extensive programming required
- Wrappers need to be reprogrammed when an online store changes its outfit
- Wrappers extract information based on textual analysis
- Limited information extracted
At around the same time, several other comparison-shopping agents were already being developed and used like pricewatch.com and killerapp.com. Most of them were price comparison for computer related products used by geeks thus didn't attract much public attention.
In the early development stage from 1995 to 2000, comparison-shopping agents include not only price comparison but also rating and review services for online vendors and products. For example, services like Bizrate.com provides ratings service for online vendors. Websites like Epinion.com provides review and rating service for products. Altogether they consisted three broad categories of comparison-shopping services.