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Point-and-click Web commerce

New software from BroadVision makes it easier for businesses to customize Web sites for individual visitors.

BroadVision today will announce a family of software targeted at companies interested in merchandising, content publishing, and self-service Web sites.

One-To-One WebApps, to ship by March 1997, will be based on version 2 of BroadVision's flagship One-To-One application software for Internet commerce. Version 2 began shipping last month.

"Using our One-To-One WebApps, companies can conduct business on Web sites much the same way they do face to face," Pehong Chen, BroadVision's president and CEO, said in a statement. "They can listen, learn, interact, and respond on the spot to the needs and interests of each individual customer."

WebApps are based on software components--business objects, templates, business rules, and reports--that let marketers build applications faster and cheaper than writing programs by hand, the company says.

A Windows 95-based interface uses point-and-click techniques to let business managers target visitors and match them to relevant content or offers without programming.

BroadVision is one of a host of Web software vendors pursuing "mass customization" of Web sites, the ability to tailor what content a visitor sees to their interests.

Customization can be based on registration data from a Web surfer, Netscape Communications' "cookies" that tag a Web browser so it can be identified on return, what a visitor does on a particular site--such as pages seen and purchases made, or any combination of those methods.

BroadVision's WebApps are designed for public Web sites, corporate intranets, or "extranets," which give customers or business partners access to certain data from within a corporation.

"Profitable Web sites match people to what they want in real time, empower business people to run Web sites, learn from interactions and rapidly adapt to change, and increase interactivity and quality of information," said Bob Runge, BroadVision's vice president for marketing.

BroadVision is developing its WebApps in conjunction with companies that would use the applications. For example, Fingerhut, a major catalog marketer, is working on the merchandising application.

BroadVision expects value-added resellers and systems integrators that specialize in particular industries to develop their own versions of WebApps based on BroadVision's technology. Base pricing for the basic One-To-One software starts at $60,000; base pricing for WebApps is an additional $30,000.

BroadVision customers include major telephone companies such as Olivetti Telemedia for its Cybermercato Internet Shopping Mall and US West, Prodigy, Virgin Net, Kodak, and NetRadio Network.