IBM Rolls Out Software for Online Marketplaces

SAN MATEO (03/28/2000) - IBM Corp. today announced an integrated server-based software suite that gives ISPs, ASPs and financial institutions the chance to offer smaller users a faster way to set up a marketplace in a shared commerce server environment.

The WebSphere Commerce Suite, Service Provider Edition, which includes the WebSphere Commerce Suite, Service Provider Edition 3.2 and the WebSphere Payment Manager, sports a new site creation tool intended for one-stop commerce shopping. It also includes new store model templates as well as a secure online payment service that can be used with a user's existing business processes and applications.

"As the size of the hosting market continues to rapidly expand, service providers will increasingly sell additional value-added services to drive incremental revenues for their customers," said Ed Kilroy, general manager electronic commerce, IBM Software Solutions in Somers, N.Y. "We think this offering helps them to do that."

According to Forrester Research, in Cambridge, Mass., the hosting market is expected to continue to grow aggressively, with e-commerce as one of the primary drivers. The researcher is predicting that the market will be worth $11.3 billion by 2003.

Some service providers believe the new offering hits the mark for helping them to more easily offer key customers the abilities they need to grow their online ventures quickly.

"Coupled with this (WebSphere Commerce Suite) and our own Embrace product, I think we can better offer manufacturers and distributors the ability to put together richer e-markets in terms of their features," said Michael Doane, vice president of business development for NetVendor, a Net-based product distribution channel company based in Atlanta.

Using WebSphere Commerce Suite, users now have improved access and control of a variety of integrated solutions for both b-to-b (business-to-business) and b-to-c (business-to-consumer) environments for chores such as content management, relationship marketing, and auction capabilities, IBM officials claimed.

With the new software, providers can create two new stores including the Basic Store and the Advanced Store.

The Basic Store offers providers a Store Creation Wizard template so they can set up a fully operational e-commerce store. That store contains a populated product directory with the ability to do off-line or on-line payment processing.

The Advanced Store supplies unlimited sized catalogs, a catalog editor, customer-designed store flows, and the capability to include custom designed HTML pages.

The tax and shipping calculations can be defined at the product category level.

SPE makes it possible to add e-commerce functions to remotely hosted static pages and a new shopping cart feature called "snap-on-commerce." This feature is provided with the Advanced Store and is free.

The price for the IBM Service Provider Edition is $10,000 per processor, and includes five merchant licenses. The Basic Store templates cost an additional $250 with the Advanced Store templates going for an additional $500.

Available Tuesday, the WebSphere Commerce Suite runs on Windows NT, IBM's AIX and Sun Microsystems' Solaris operating systems.

IBM Corp., in Armonk, N.Y., is at http://www.ibm.com/.

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