February 3, 2003
John Lewis Partnership Streamlines Call Center Processes Using Mercado's Search Solution, Cutting Average Telesales Call Time
UK's largest privately held company deploys Mercado's search in its call center and on its self-service site to reduce customer support costs and improve customer satisfaction

FREMONT, CA. - February 3, 2003 - Mercado Software, the leading Search and Browse solution provider for e-Business, today reported that John Lewis Direct, a branch of John Lewis Partnership, a 4 Billion ($6 billion US) retailer and the UK's largest privately held company, is achieving significant bottom-line benefits with Mercado's IntuiFind solution. By adding a powerful search capability to its telesales process, John Lewis has reduced the time it takes its call center representatives to complete calls for orders. Additionally, John Lewis has deployed Mercado's search solution on the self-service area of its website (www.johnlewis.com). As a result, fewer customers contact the call center, because they are finding the information they need using the less costly online channel.

"IntuiFind is a major contributor in streamlining our customer support operations," said Robert Smith, Head of IT for John Lewis Direct. "With very easy access to a wealth of support information online, our customers can find the information they need without calling our customer service department. This makes our customers happier, and reduces the number of calls we need to handle. Even if they must contact someone in our call center, we're able to service their needs in a fraction of the time it once took."

John Lewis sells its products in its department stores, via printed catalogs, and on its website. The company originally implemented Mercado's IntuiFind on its e-Commerce site to optimize the customer experience, and to convert more browsers to buyers. Following the successful deployment of IntuiFind for its online catalog search, John Lewis Direct decided to extend the solution to other areas of its business. The company deployed Mercado's search solution in its call center and on the customer self-service portion of its web site.

John Lewis Direct's call center utilizes IntuiFind within its call center application, allowing the telesales operators to quickly find the information they need to complete customer orders. Because these representatives are able to locate this information much faster than before, the average call time has been reduced. The average telesales call time was reduced from seven minutes prior to deploying IntuiFind, to less then two minutes following deployment. This productivity improvement has allowed John Lewis Direct to grow its business while reducing operational costs, and to maintain its high level of customer service.

To further reduce the load on its call center, John Lewis Direct added a self-service section to its web site. Using IntuiFind, customers can find answers to a vast amount of commonly asked questions and resolve issues without calling into the customer service center. Deploying an easily searchable self-service capability has reduced the call volume in John Lewis Direct's call center by converting support from expensive human interaction to low cost self-service.

John Lewis Direct uses IntuiFind's SearchStream Analysis to analyze search usage and performance. With SearchStream Analysis, John Lewis can quickly respond to customers' interests, as indicated by their search requests. For example, recent analysis of search requests indicated increasing customer interest in products currently not available on the John Lewis Direct site. The company has added products to the site in response to this demand, and is considering further expansion of its online offering as a result of this valuable insight. SearchStream Analysis also helps John Lewis Direct evaluate site content and continuously improve its self-service capabilities.

"The benefits John Lewis Direct has accomplished with IntuiFind underscore the value to be gained by leveraging our superior search solution across the enterprise. Many of our customers are finding that they can considerably cut their operating costs by deploying our search solution in critical e-Business applications," said Menachem Cohen, CEO of Mercado Software. "We're proud to be helping one of the UK's largest companies optimize its operations in such an impressive fashion."

Mercado's IntuiFind surpasses traditional search solutions by integrating multiple information finding methodologies into a unified user experience, and by creating a single point of access to both structured database contents and unstructured document collections. With IntuiFind, customers can enter queries in their own words, without prior knowledge of the underlying terminology, wording or structure. Results are organized into logical groupings that are relevant to the specific request - guiding users to quickly focus on the relevant items. This powerful combination prevents "dead end" searches and eliminates the classic "too many results" problem.

About John Lewis
The John Lewis Partnership operates 26 department stores across the UK, John Lewis Direct, a website and catalogue business and 140 Waitrose supermarkets. The business has a turnover of over 4bn. A typical John Lewis stocks more than half a million separate lines and seeks to be an "all-under-one-roof" destination for an entire region of shoppers. The website stocks over 7,000 lines focused on the best of home and giftware and is consistently ranked one of the top online shopping destinations in the UK.

About Mercado Software, Inc.
Mercado(tm) Software is the recognized leader of e-business Search and Browse solutions for organizations worldwide, including Sears, Macy's, Boise Office Solutions, Petco, Tower Records, Caterpillar, Ocado, eBags, John Lewis, Swisscom, Blockbuster Video and others. Mercado's IntuiFind(tm) is the first complete Search and Browse solution for large-scale e-business applications. With the patented IntuiFind technology, Mercado Software has developed best-of-class intuitive free text and parametric search, integrated with dynamic browsing by categories and attributes. IntuiFind customers report higher productivity, increased customer satisfaction and lower total cost of ownership. For more information about Mercado Software please visit www.mercado.com.

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