Advantage Group has announced plans for what it claims is New Zealand's first Internet procurement service, code-named Venice.
Advantage's claim to be first to market will no doubt irritate a number of other players, including Axon Computertime, whose Quality Direct e-procurement service has been operating for more than two years, clocking up single sales as large as $2 million along the way.
Advantage says Venice will target small- and medium-sized businesses, automating and managing business purchasing, and becoming the largest "virtual marketplace" in Australasia.
Like the FlyingPig online store, Venice will make use of partnerships revolving around investor Eric Watson. Its first partner is the Blue Star Group. Blue Star subsidiaries will place their entire catalogues on Venice, offering a range of goods and services including office products and business consumables. Blue Star will also take a significant equity position in the venture.
"In simple terms it's like combining a business directory with full catalogues, price and stock lists, then adding ordering and payment systems, advice, business news, financial services and news, travel services and other business information," said Advantage Chairman Evan Christian in a statement yesterday.
"Buying and selling become vastly more efficient. Venice will make it faster, cheaper and easier for businesses to buy pens, paper, printer cartridges, light bulbs, cleaning supplies and coffee and a wide variety of other products, parts and services."
In addition to providing online access to catalogues, Venice will also offer member benefits and vertical solutions.
Christian says e-commerce is a core competency for Advantage.
"The Venice project is further proof that we are serious about being an innovator and leader in this rapidly evolving and expanding category of business-to-business e-commerce.
"Speed to market is absolutely critical in Internet-based businesses and having identified the business need for such a service we're equipped to respond to market demand very rapidly."
Advantage will unveil more details about its procurement portal early in the new year.