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Industrial-strength catalogs

Open Market next week will release new software for building "industrial-strength" online catalogs.

Rounding out its Internet commerce software offerings, Open Market (OMKT) next week will release new software for building "industrial-strength" online catalogs.

LiveCommerce, targeted at the business-to-business space, is built on technology from Waypoint Software, which Open Market acquired in February for $12 million. The product will be introduced at next week's Internet Commerce Expo trade show in Los Angeles.

Open Market also will announce a 50 percent price cut to $125,000 for companies that want to build and host their own complex Internet stores using the company's flagship Transact e-commerce software. Transact's standard $250,000 price tag remains unchanged for Web hosting services, ISPs, Web malls, and other companies that host multiple storefronts.

"LiveCommerce is the next generation of applications for building industrial catalogs on the Internet," said Ellen Brezniak, vice president of Open Market's business-to-business unit. "We now offer a complete end-to-end Internet commerce solution." Other software offerings include consumer interface software, order processing, and online customer service.

Open Market will target the new offering to manufacturers, distributors, or selling organizations, companies that may have catalogs with tens of thousands of parts, hundreds of thousands of product numbers, complex technical specifications, and many users.

LiveCommerce is Open Market's first product to run on Windows NT. Features include multiple options for personalizing catalogs by user, job type, department, or company, as well as several searching methods and a flexible authoring environment. Catalogs can be customized for content, product lines, pricing, and branding specific to each customer.

Open Market's announcement will mark a significant thrust into the business-to-business space, which Forrester Research predicts will grow from $600 million in 1996 to $105 billion by the year 2000.

But LiveCommerce also will put Open Market in the position of competing with some of its current partners, including Cadis, Saqqara, and iCat, which offer search tools or cataloging software. Cadis and Saqqara are primarily for business-to-business marketers.

LiveCommerce's $45,000 price, however, may deter customers who find offerings from iCat more in their price range.

Beta users of the new catalog tools include C & K Components, an electromechanical switch manufacturer that will allow users to configure more than 500 million permutations of its switches in minutes. Australia's Computer Integration Centre, a network integration and outsourcing vendor, also is using LiveCommerce.

Open Market will partner with Web developers and systems integrators such as CSC, Cambridge Technology Partners, and Onward Technologies to help customers deploy LiveCommerce catalogs.