Intershop takes on the enterprise

Once confined to small storefronts and ISPs that host e-commerce sites, Intershop announces an enterprise version of its Web store software.

2 min read
E-commerce software provider Intershop is moving up the food chain.

Once confined to small storefronts and ISPs that host e-commerce sites, Intershop today announced an enterprise version of its Web store software that can be integrated with legacy back-end software, such as SAP, that runs in many large corporations. The new version is called Intershop 3 Enterprise Edition.

Intershop also announced a plug-in for its hosting software that lets merchants manage their own hosted stores. Called ePages and working with Intershop 3 Hosting Edition, the cartridge gives high-traffic portal and directory sites the ability to offer their own alternative to Yahoo Store, which Yahoo acquired in June when it bought Viaweb for its self-service storefront hosting software.

"It's a Viaweb type of add-on, but the host doesn't need to pay $49 million for the acquisition," Stephan Schambach, Intershop's founder and CEO, said in a dig at the sum Yahoo paid for Viaweb. "It relies on the eyeballs that a portal can attract rather than the brand name of a small business."

The new ePages cartridge is designed to enable busy Internet on-ramps, directory sites, and telcos to offer e-commerce hosting but lets merchants manage their own sites. It also lets storefronts graduate from an hosted store to Intershop's stand-alone storefront software.

Intershop created its enterprise edition for large companies in response to demand from systems integrators and other partners that deal with large companies and want a way to integrate with existing enterprise resource planning systems, Schambach said.

For its enterprise edition, Schambach said it plans to use a middleware cartridge to link to widely used SAP R/3 systems. Cartridges are planned too for mainframes and electronic data interchange systems common in large companies. Intershop will publish an interface so other software can be tied to the new enterprise edition.

The Enterprise edition puts Intershop up against new competitors. To date, it has largely competed with store-building tools from iCat, Vision Factory, Open Market, Microsoft, or IBM.

Now its enterprise products go against offerings from EDI players like Sterling Commerce, GE Information Systems, and Harbinger as well as software providers like BroadVision, InterWorld, Netscape, and Connect, which recently repositioned itself as an e-commerce consulting firm.

"The market for enterprise solutions is so big that I don't see us competing for customers," an unworried Schambach said. "It's not a market-share fight, it's just a lot of demand." On the plus side: Large companies are willing to pay more than smaller ones.

Early customers for the Enterprise edition include ISP PSINet, while TheGlobe and ISP MindSpring are ePages customers.

Pricing for the enterprise version, which runs on Windows NT and Sun Solaris, starts at $50,000, with additional charges for cartridges to connect to legacy systems. An Oracle or Sybase database license is included.

The ePages Cartridge is due to ship by year's end on Windows NT and Solaris.