Tech Industry

E-commerce changes at Demo 98

Four e-commerce technology vendors unveil changes designed to make their software easier to use, hoping that will lure more online buyers.

PALM SPRINGS, California--After tinkering with their software, four Internet commerce technology vendors have unveiled changes designed to make their offerings easier to use, hoping that will lure more online buyers.

The most visible change came in a demonstration by Narrative Communications of a standard Web advertising banner that could take an order from Eddie Bauer online clothing store.

"Our goal is to blur the line between advertising and e-commerce," Narrative CEO Hilmi Ozguc said. The ad, created with Narrative's Enliven streaming media technology, was demoed at the Demo 98 technology conference here and will soon appear on the Internet as well, Ozguc said. First Virtual Holdings has similar Java-based technologies, but its smart banner technology is tied closely to First Virtual's payment technologies.

CyberSource, which offers e-commerce services primarily to software companies selling online, also announced the availability of its SmartCert technology, designed to ease the buyer's experience of purchasing, then downloading and installing software online.

Based on digital certificate technology, SmartCert also is designed to reduce the costs of selling online--20 to 33 percent of software sales on the Net required buyers to call customer support, said Rob Lewis, senior product manager for CyberSource. The new system automates some troublesome areas, he added.

Separately, CyberSource--a services company spun off from one of the earliest Web software stores, it now supports purchases in 26 currencies and has partnered with EDS to serve as its data center in Great Britain.

NetDox, which operates a guaranteed document delivery service over the Net, also announced enhancements to its service to make it easier for business customers to use.

New elements include allowing senders to create their own digital certificates, which are required in the NetDox scheme. Likewise, senders whose recipients don't have digital IDs can let their partners open the documents with a password, rather than requiring a digital certificate.

Softbank Net Solutions, flush with $8 million in new venture capital, unveiled a beta version of its Rights Exchange service. The service, built on DigiBox technology from InterTrust Technologies, delivers content in encrypted containers that can be opened and used under certain conditions.

The service also collects payments, disburses revenue to partners, and maintains a clearinghouse of who can use what data.