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A recent ExactChoice study illustrated
this point, finding that 66% of packaged computers have customized equivalents--often
from the same manufacturer--that cost less. (See "Study Finds Customized
Computers Often Cost Less Than Packaged Ones,"
"Every major computer manufacturer sells customizable computers, yet there was no way to compare all the possibilities," said Steve Krause, President and CEO of ExactChoice. "ExactChoice is about delivering that next level of choice without adding complexity to the decision or buying process."
Based on extensive user testing, the site's primary path is a step-by-step process that allows users to state preferences in everyday terms. The system translates those preferences to technical requirements and then recommends the best-matching computers.
Recommended computers can be either packaged models or customized models. For packaged models, the system displays prices from different sources. For customized models, the system automatically recommends the optimal configuration for the user's needs--a first in the industry. Most users complete the recommendation process in less than five minutes.
Among ExactChoice's other innovations are:
Instead of needing to interpret computer jargon such as "2.8GHz P4 w/ 512K L2, 800MHz FSB," users can quickly compare features by "better," "similar," and "worse" icons.
Every computer in ExactChoice's system has a full Product Profile, which explains the computer's features in everyday terms. Customized computers have Product Profiles that automatically adapt to whatever custom features the user is considering.
Buying instructions explain how to complete a manufacturer's order form to get the right custom features--cutting through the uncertainty and hassle of facing dozens of options when ordering.
Finally, ExactChoice provides a neutral playing field, with no advertisements, paid placements, or other forms of distraction or influence. The only factor driving recommendations is the user's preferences.
The site's business model is to make money when the user succeeds at his or her own mission: When the user buys a computer referred by the site, ExactChoice receives an affiliate commission from the manufacturer or retailer. Commission terms do not influence recommendations or any other aspect of the user experience.
"Our goal is to earn users' trust and loyalty by providing a better experience," said Krause, "That means more choices considered, less jargon, and no ads."
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