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HolidayBuyer's Guide
Tech Industry

Amazon gets personal with customers

The company launches a new store on its home page that may make it easier for customers to find goods and for Amazon to make sales pitches.

Amazon.com launched a new store on its home page Thursday that could make it easier for customers to find goods and for Amazon to make sales pitches.

The Net's largest retailer on Thursday debuted "Your Store," a personalized Web page that displays goods a customer has shown a prior interest in. The store also provides information on goods that Amazon guesses the customer might be interested in, based on the data the company collects each time a customer makes a purchase.

Amazon has for years tracked its customers' purchases, using that information to market products to them and to shoppers with similar buying habits.

Many online merchants aim to create a shopping experience on the Web that resembles the in-store experience, using technology that replaces the department-store salesperson--displaying merchandise, making recommendations and providing information.

"It goes back to the corner-store approach: knowing your name when you walk in, knowing what you like and don't like," said Tim Storm, the founder of FatWallet.com, an online forum for bargain hunters.

But because of the costs, few Web merchants have been as successful as Amazon in developing this kind of "personalization" technology. And even Amazon's isn't always effective. Some customers have complained that the company often suggests products they have no interest in.

"Sometimes I don't want the stuff they put in front of me," Storm said. "But often I find myself buying them. I like the fact that they are showing me items I may not otherwise find on my own."

The new store includes features such as one called Page You Made, which helps customers keep track of items they previously viewed and displays related items. Your Recommendations suggests new products based on customers' previous purchases, and Friends & Favorites lets customers learn what their friends think about a product.

Amazon did not return a phone call seeking comment.