The Participatory Electronic Product Catalog: Supporting Customer Collaboration in E-Commerce Applications

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As increasing numbers of consumers use the Internet as a geographically and temporally distributed interactive, multimedia platform to conduct business, new strategic considerations dictate that E-Commerce Applications afford coordination and collaboration mechanisms. These coordination mechanisms are vital to leverage subgroup preferences and exploit the intelligence embedded in prior transaction histories and experiences.

To provide such vital pathways, systems must support the notion of Virtual Communities of Buyers as they cultivate the process of a collective awareness. Virtual Communities of Buyers and Seller Offerings can be merged in a single locus, the electronic product catalog (EPC). To coordinate the buyers, the EPC can usefully be extended as a Participatory Product Catalog (PEP) - which combines aspects of product information and community building into a common approach for a modern business medium.

This paper will show how the PEP can provide personalization strategies on the basis of customer profiles and afford collaborative mechanisms for the support of the buying process. The paper concludes by recapitulating the importance of E-Commerce strategies which meet the twin goals of personalization and community building.

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