Thomas Cook plans to replicate a supermarket online with the development of its new e-commerce platform.
The technology, which is to be gradually released from the end of this month and every few weeks over the course of 2008, will provide the operator with the capability to combine and sell its own in-house components and third-party content.
Thomas Cook UK director of e-commerce Russell Gould said: “It’s leading edge but flexible enough to not to expire. It will be the first time we have the ability to present all our product as a group and third party and all our flying. It’s one complete journey.”
Gould described the e-commerce platform, which has been named Starfish internally, as a supermarket with aisles, shelves and checkouts with the API in the background feeding the travel content through to the consumer interface.
The Starfish platform will enable Thomas Cook to select content for its customers based on what it knows about them.
“We can change the product on the shelf depending on who walks through the door. If we know they are a family in the Gatwick area we will only present London-based holidays to them,” Gould said.
The technology will also enable Thomas Cook to predict where holidaymakers might want to go next time.
Gould claimed the technology would make the operator a ‘true’ online retailer, which could sell anything.
He added: “It allows us to do more than just holidays. When we have absolutely cracked holidays on it and if there is demand, there is the opportunity to sell anything on top of that.”
He cited baby products as an example where families could pre-purchase food and other supplies online and have it waiting for them on arrival at their destination.
Additional features of the Starfish technology will enable consumers to manage their booking online and provide consumers with the same information on their across their various devices.