The Warehouse is set to launch its delayed venture into full e-commerce with technology from Intershop, the company behind Xtra's flagship Business Builder product.
The retailer will is running a pilot with 15 to 20 users. Warehouse information chief Neville Brown says "a reasonable range of goods" is being offered. The pilot uses the Intershop platform, and it is "highly probable" that The Warehouse will adopt Intershop for the long-term production system, he says.
"It's more of a B2B than a B2C system," says Brown, "in that most of the buyers are corporates." E-commerce will start with the company's blue stores, selling stationery and related goods, then, perhaps, move on to the red stores with their wider range of merchandise.
Intershop began in East Germany as an EDI vendor and is regarded as one of that country's industrial success stories, but now does much of its business in the US. Xtra adopted its technology in 1998, attracted by its simple, shrink-wrap nature. Local Web developers were initially attracted by the low cost of development, but many now dislike it. The company's business-to-business oriented product Enfinity has, however, won strong reviews in the US recerntly and was described as a "topcontender" by Gartner Group.
Brown says Intershop was chosen for the pilot because it is a well-priced solution and relatively easy to set up. He says it also appears readily scalable.
The Warehouse has not settled on a length of time for the prototyping exercise, so Brown cannot say when the production system will begin rolling out.
Warehouse sources were saying last year that the project was expected to go live before the end of 2000. "Yes, it probably has been delayed," Brown says. "We had to get the business model a little clearer before we went ahead, and also to check out the robustness and reliability of the equipment."