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Pandesic touts e-hosting

The Intel and SAP start-up rolls out a new e-commerce package along with a strategy that lets merchants run the software on their own sites.

Pandesic, a start-up formed by Intel and SAP, yesterday rolled out the newest version of its e-commerce software package along with a new hosting strategy.

Pandesic 2.0 offers online merchants new merchandising capabilities such as the ability to run promotions integrated into the order process, the ability for consumers to choose their own delivery date of purchased goods, virtual consignment capabilities, and better links between Web servers and business applications.

Version 2.0 also includes the capability to be run as a "hosted" package, meaning merchants can use Pandesic software hosted on a service provider's site. The goal is to cut the costs associated with running and supporting a system on site.

The Pandesic announcement comes a day after IBM (IBM) announced e-commerce capabilities for its Web hosting service. The service, priced from $3,500 a month with a $3,500 setup fee, is designed for large and mid-sized companies to sell via online catalogs.

In addition, Maagnum E-Commerce Services, an e-commerce firm, this week announced two e-commerce outsourcing services for companies selling information or services online.

Maagnum's E-Scribe subscription management and billing service, available next month, lets Web sites outsource managing subscriber databases, security, credit card processing, repeat billing, and reports. Its E-Runner service, due by September, uses a distributed payment and routing application to speed delivery of electronic goods.

Pandesic plans to support three hosted product offerings based on Pandesic 2.0, each designed to accommodate different merchant needs and business models, the company said. Pandesic, or an authorized hosting partner, will maintain and administer the hosted systems.

"It?s pretty much providing the architecture to the merchant without them having to run it themselves," a company spokesperson said.

A joint venture by SAP and Intel, Pandesic packages SAP business application software with Intel-based PC hardware, enabling almost any company, whether fledgling or Fortune 500, to do business over the Internet.

Zona Research, in a research note, called Pandesic's new offerings appropriate for small to mid-sized firms that don't have pricey Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems.

"For the industry, Pandesic will remain an interesting bellwether of customer acceptance of transaction-based pricing and the ability for a giant software company like SAP to Webify its client-server world into the electronic economy," Zona stated.

Enhancements in Pandesic 2.0 include a Citibank Worldlink payment interface, which allows merchants to issue daily payments automatically to their vendors based on transaction. It also integrates updated versions of Taxware and Cybercash and expands the number of Web-enabled reporting features, as well as deployment and support features like merchant setup and toll-free phone support.

Merchants pay a monthly, transaction-based fee that will vary from a high of 6 percent to a low of 1 percent. The fee is based on Internet commerce revenue, for which merchants will receive continuing, "evergreen" service, according to company executives.