E-commerce software firm Fisher
on Monday will release an upgraded version of its CornerStone software to streamline business-to-business buying over the Internet, one of the hottest sectors in electronic commerce.
Fisher, a unit of the $2 billion chemical and lab equipment distributor Fisher Scientific
(FSH), also operates a Web mall called ProcureNet for business purchases of
"Today's hot issue is purchasing and procurement and the supply chain,"
said Geri Speiler, e-commerce and extranet analyst at Gartner Group. "How do I order? How can
I streamline ordering to cut costs? That's the key place for electronic
commerce: to solve those problems."
Bob Grzyb, FTG's vice president of marketing, contends that
business-to-business systems must move beyond Internet catalogs.
"Today's technology is catalog driven, and that's not the business process
the buying organization is looking for," he said.
In version 3.5, CornerStone adds features such as customer registration,
hot lists for personalized repeat orders, ordering from multiple suppliers
from a single form, contract pricing, availability data, and getting bids
from multiple vendors.
CornerStone competes in one of the most crowded markets in Internet
commerce: streamlining the buying process for routine items. FTG's strategy is to sell its $150,000 software to large
sellers and buyers, while offering small and midsized businesses the
ProcureNet Web mall for buying and selling everyday items.
Other players on the software side include Ariba Technologies, which offers its
higher-priced software as a turnkey system for buying oirganizations, and
Actra, and Commerce One, a service headed by
former Sybase chairman Mark Hoffman.
"Our technology supports new business processes to tie end users to
suppliers," said FTG's Bob Grzyb. "We don't attempt to replace an existing
system; we are a front-end to a buyer's purchasing system." He likens FTG
to competitors Open Market, Connect, Web mall TradeEx, and Elcom.
Gartner's Speiler lumps FTG with other vendors that provide catalog and
search software, companies such as iCat,
Saqqara, and Cadis.
But FTG thinks having both a product and a service makes its offering unique.
"You have to demonstrate to people that you can do commerce via these
sites, and you have to have a migration path in Web commerce
from a service to the ability to do it on your own, We have that migration
path," he said.