Pacific Retail picks WebSphere for e-biz

The Eric Watson-owned Pacific Retail Group has chosen IBM's WebSphere platform for its new store websites being launched in the coming year, a move claimed as a first for New Zealand.

The Eric Watson-owned Pacific Retail Group has chosen IBM's WebSphere platform for its new store websites being launched in the coming year, a move claimed as a first for New Zealand.

The first website, Noel Leeming Online, was launched last week, promising a range of 4000 items (Pacific Retail takes Noel Leeming online). Websites for the Bond & Bond and Big Byte stores also owned by Pacific Retail are under development.

While TranzRail uses WebSphere in New Zealand, as do some Australian retailers, Pacific Retail claims to be the country's first user of the WebSphere Commerce Suite and Application Server version 3.51.

Pacific Retail's general manager of IT, Brent Powell, says the retailer chose the product after studying e-commerce sites from Macys and Sears in the US, Dixon's in Britain and US book etailer Amazon.com.

"The WebSphere Commerce Suite is a shop in a box which we are tailoring to suit New Zealand," Powell says.

It can automatically take and track orders, sort out delivery, update catalogues and handle payments online through local credit card specialist Direct Payment Solutions.

WebSphere also offers online auctions and bid management, something Powell says Pacific Retail will consider in future. Online records of staff training and skills is another function.

The websites, written in Java, are hosted on IBM iSeries (AS/400) servers.

The Noel Leeming site was done in-house and retail general manager John Milford says the store group gained much institutional knowledge of e-commerce to help it with future projects. The work involved a peak of nine staff based in Christchurch, now reduced to five.

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