Thursday, September 16, 2010

An e-commerce idea for China

I feel China really ought to have an online shopping Website where you can attempt to whittle down the price demanded through protracted bargaining - a real-time haggling process, albeit probably conducted with an AI counterpart rather than a live sales assistant (even the most limited AI program could scarcely be more unintelligently obstinate than your average Silk Street stallholder here in Beijing).  I envisage an animation of a desk calculator like the one above, hovering to and fro between you and your cartoon antagonist as you exchange a long series of offers and counter-offers (the cartoon trader squawking from time to time, "How much you really want to pay?  No, really, what's your best price?  No, I can't feed my children on that.  I lose money if I sell that low!" etc.).  A randomising element in the AI could give you a widely varying, unpredictable range of final outcomes, from no sale at all to bargain of the century - thus combining the exhilaration of shopping with the even greater adrenalin rush of gambling!

I had wanted to call this site, or maybe - but, alas, these both exist already (the latter cheerily exhorts us to "Learn about wood carving now!").  However, still appears to be available; maybe that'll work.  Watch this space....

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