Open Market adds e-commerce for ISPs

Open Market will unveil a new product line merging transaction processing with store-building tools.

3 min read
Next week, Open Market will unveil a new product line that merges the transaction processing of its Transact e-commerce software with the store-building tools it acquired earlier this year with iCentral.

Open Market will license ShopSite TX to ISPs and Web hosting services that target small and mid-size merchants, trying to compete against Yahoo Store and iCatmall with another server-side approach for online stores.

Browser-based e-commerce software has been growing in popularity because it is easier for non-technical merchants to use to build online stores. ViaWeb, which pioneered the concept, was purchased in June by Yahoo after essentially giving away store-building tools to gain hosting revenue.

"This does not just offer the right things for merchants but for the channel we have developed--the high-end telco/ISP market and the lower-end ISPs that iCentral had," said Gail Goodman, Open Market's vice president of commerce product. Open Market acquired ICentral earlier this year for its store-building tools, which it is now integrating into the new offering.

Goodman said the target for the new product is the ISP that serves small and mid-sized companies which want to try their hand at Internet commerce--very much the same audience IBM is aiming to serve.

"We see the same market that IBM sees in small and medium-sized ISPs. We think local ISPs are the first place where small merchants will turn to, and we want to dominate there," Goodman said.

Erica Ruguilles, e-commerce analyst at Giga Information Group, noted that the new Open Market product is consistent with its past strategy of selling to ISPs.

"It's not surprising at all because of the number of small and mid-sized companies that haven't become commerce-enabled," she added, noting that the sales may be larger for big customers, but the number of customers below the Fortune 100 is enormous.

ShopSite TX includes wizards and templates so merchants can create a storefront in as few as 15 minutes. But it also can be customized for more sophisticated pages and storefronts. Because the product generates static Web pages, rather than creating them on the fly from a database, product pages are more likely to show up in search engines, Open Market argues.

The new offering gives ISPs many of the same commerce services as the full-strength Transact product, including secure ordering and credit card payments, fraud detection, partial shipments and credits, and order checking.

"Smaller ISPs are trying to get to higher value-added services to the businesses they host, and commerce is important," Goodman added. "But they need to enter at very low investment levels in terms of the software price, the amount of hardware put in place, and the implementation and service requirements to the merchants."

ShopSite TX is shipping to commerce service providers running Sun's Solaris operating system with a base price of $5,000, which includes a limited number of licenses for Web stores. Additional licenses cost $495, depending on quantity.

Open Market is encouraging prices to merchants starting at $100 per month including catalog hosting services and commerce services, because Open Market thinks small merchants expect to spend $1,000 to $10,000 a year for an Internet storefront.