Software puts e-commerce on trial

Internet commerce vendor SpaceWorks will unveil a program that sets up trial e-commerce or extranet sites for customers within 30 days.

2 min read
E-commerce software vendor SpaceWorks will unveil a program next week that sets up trial e-commerce or extranet sites for customers within 30 days for a cost of $25,000 to $50,000.

The "incubator" program, which uses the company's OrderManager software, is designed to give customers a taste of a working e-commerce program before committing to a full extranet or e-commerce strategy.

"We're intending to help business executives take the plunge in a very low-risk environment," said Liz Sara, SpaceWorks vice president of marketing. "We're trying to help them make the decision by test-driving an e-commerce application before they buy it. They'll not only have the opportunity to see and touch but also have their trading partners test it out."

SpaceWorks is targeting its e-commerce software for the business-to-business market, primarily to manufacturers or wholesale distributors who sell to other businesses, not consumers. Merisel, a $3.5 billion computer wholesaler, has been announced as a SpaceWorks customer.

Under the program, SpaceWorks' in-house staff creates sample e-commerce applications that link customers' legacy systems to catalogs and prices on Web sites hosted by SpaceWorks' service bureau.

After 90 days, incubator customers can end the test or apply the initial fee, which will range from $25,000 to $50,000 depending on the complexity of the application, toward a full license. Licensing for OrderManager, a self-service ordering system, ranges from $100,000 to $250,000.

"We don't think once someone is up and running that they'll want to [end the trial]," Lara added. "We have demonstrated to companies that they can have 70 percent cost savings doing orders electronically as opposed to using a central [telephone] order desk."

Another e-commerce software vendor, BroadVision, announced earlier this month that for $125,000, a systems integrator will deliver a working Web storefront within 30 days using the company's One-to-One software.

The e-commerce software market is heating up. This month Oracle and Actra Business Systems, the joint venture of Netscape and GE Information Systems, introduced new e-commerce packages.

IBM is scheduled to release a new version of its e-commerce software this week. Earlier this month, Microsoft said a newer, cheaper version of its merchant software will ship this fall with additional business-to-business features, tacitly admitting its version 1.0 isn't making inroads in the market.