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Open Market to unveil Net marketplace software

The e-commerce firm is expected to launch a bundle of applications to help companies quickly develop their own online marketplace or portal.

Software firm Open Market will announce tomorrow that it is offering bundled services that will effectively provide one-stop shopping for companies looking to quickly develop online marketplaces.

"Portal Now" will have applications, consulting services and Web site hosting that allow companies to create vertical marketplaces or portals in three weeks. The cost is determined on a per-project basis.

The company's applications include software for transactions, order management and fulfillment, plus tools for merchants to build storefronts.

Open Market partners Exodus Communications and Navisite will host and manage a customer's marketplace, and Deloitte Consulting will integrate the applications with a company's existing computer system. Content provider eCal will provide calendars and appointment books via the Web.

Additional content provider partnerships are expected soon, Open Market said.

Portal Now customers can pick and choose from an array of content and other services to add to its portal or online marketplace.

In recent months, most efforts in the lucrative business e-commerce market have taken place in the area of building online marketplaces or trading exchanges for specific industries. Companies selling specialized software and offering online exchanges, such as iPlanet, Commerce One, Ariba, say they promise to dramatically cut costs by helping companies move their existing supply chain, including partners, suppliers and customers, to the Internet.

Whit Andrews, an industry analyst at Gartner, said Open Market's marketplace-portal push is a smart move. Still, the company, which has not been aggressively marketing itself, will face some hurdles against noisier rivals in the competitive business e-commerce market.

"Open Markets is leveraging a substantial number of powerful commerce components in this effort, but that does not guarantee its success (in the market)," Andrews said. "Certainly, even in the B2B environment, a little (marketing) buzz does no harm. Open Market has been buzz challenged and?still faces substantial challenges in executing" the new Portal Now offering.

The company joins a growing number of software makers that are pitching themselves as so-called one-stop shops for businesses that are hoping to quickly create an online marketplace. The company said it is also aiming to help businesses bring in additional revenues through ways other than Web advertisement or transaction fees by offering a wide range of content and provide more services to its users.

"A lot of Web sites haven't thought of multiple revenues models," said Bill Crowley, a spokesman for Open Market. "Some (companies) just wanted advertising, but now more companies want to form unique relationships with their customers" and are looking for ways to increase revenues on their Web sites.