Software vendors launch new wares

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Business-to-business marketers interested in e-commerce applications found a number of new products at Fall Internet World last month in New York.

One product that drew a lot of interest at the show was Buying Chain from Trilogy Software, Austin, Texas. First announced a month ago, it's already being used by such companies as Office Depot, Beyond.Com and CompUSA to help business customers buy on the Web, capturing the same basic discounts they've previously gotten over the phone.

Krista Fairbairn, Trilogy's director of marketing, said Buying Chain combines business customers' buying policies, approval procedures and payment preferences with a merchant's discounts, custom product pages and fulfillment systems to deliver complete b-to-b purchasing solutions.

About 2,000 customers have downloaded the free client software in the past month, she says. Once that's done "they just send one e-mail to get the catalog" from a store.

An unlimited user license to the server software costs $9,995, but for businesses with fewer than 100 users, the cost is $995.

Mainspan from Webridge, Portland, Ore., is also aimed at channel management. This suite of applications can be used to build total channel management solutions costing $150,000 and up.

Jennifer Clark, market development manager for Mainspan, says the software automates all communications between business partners and sales channels.

Mainspan is based entirely on Microsoft Corp. technology, she says, specifically its networking and object technologies.

Using Microsoft technology, Mainspan "builds personalized Web environments based on different relationships with vendors or customers," Ms. Clark says.

For example, a regular customer will see different messages, different products and different prices than a new customer. Using the software, vendors can set different levels of discounts, with special offers for each class of customer.

Plus, a system's Web pages are built on the fly from a single template, giving a business site a uniform look and feel, she says.

Breaking up product

While Trilogy and Webridge were offering complete channel management systems, NetSales, Austin, Texas, has decided to unbundle its offering. The company got its start building and managing software stores for clients such as CompuServe, Columbus, Ohio, but now it wants to sell computer hardware and other products.

To do that, says Corrine Smith, VP-marketing, it's offering to host transactions, fulfillment or parts of each.

"This gives us a chance to plug in the channel," Ms. Smith says. "Online software stores can source from multiple distributors. Or we can serve a corporation that wants to source from multiple companies."

Other offerings

Among other e-commerce highlights at the show:

  • OpenShop, Chicago, said Version 2.5 of its OpenShop Professional, a Web store authoring tool, now supports all popular HTML design tools as well as Oracle and Sybase data warehouses.

  • Aditi Corp., Bellevue, Wash., introduced Talisma, a product that automatically delivers e-mails in response to customer service queries.

    Siemens, Starwave and Microsoft are among the companies beta-testing the product, which is due for general release this month.

  • Catalog International, Scotts Valley, Calif., said Version 2.6 of its [email protected] product, used for creating online catalogs, integrates with SAP R/3 databases and stored procedures.

    This lets them easily serve as a Web front-end to business systems that already manage large enterprises. Catalog International was formerly known as The Vision Factory.

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