The company debuted a new site today, called the 3Com Shopping Network, that the company hopes will drive an e-commerce model that includes resellers in the transaction.
Other networking vendors have started to reap vast revenues from their online sites. Cisco Systems may be the best example of how a company can streamline sales using the Web. Cisco CEO John Chambers said the company will garner $2 billion in business from its Web site this year and projects that figure to grow to at least $7 billion by the year 2000.
3Com may have more modest goals; it's focusing on products for small businesses. The site will first target resellers and then focus on users.
Through the site, users will be able to order networking gear by connecting to appropriate resellers in their area. Giant operations such as Ingram Micro have signed on to the 3Com effort and will offer their own 3Com online "stores."
The site will also include a Java-based tool called Network Designer that runs within Web browsers. The tool asks a few basic questions and then offers up a likely list of networking gear for the small business owner who is looking to build a network.
3Com will roll out products for the site in two phases. The first offerings will include the low-end OfficeConnect and SuperStack II router and switching product lines, as well as the company's expansive adapter card line. The second phase will include consumer-oriented offerings from U.S. Robotics.
There are no plans to offer the CoreBuilder line of backbone switches on the site, 3Com representatives said.