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Trilogy cuts cost of e-commerce

Firms will no longer have to pay six-figure sums to automate their purchasing online, as Trilogy jumps into packaged and e-commerce software.

Next week companies wanting to automate their purchasing online will get an option that doesn't run into six-figure sums, as front-office marketing software firm Trilogy Software jumps into both packaged and e-commerce software.

Trilogy, a private firm in Austin, Texas, with more than $100 million in annual revenues, on September 1 will release its Buying Chain software for online purchasing. For fewer than 100 users, the software starts at $1,000, and a site license for unlimited users costs $10,000.

"Buying Chain provides the on ramp to online buying," said Rob Lilleness, Trilogy's director of product marketing. He said Trilogy is targeting the "Fortune 8 million," not the Fortune 500, meaning smaller companies that want automated purchasing quickly and easily.

Trilogy's pricing compares with buy-side procurement software from Ariba, Netscape Communications, Trade'Ex, Open Market, Interworld, and Commerce One, which all run into hundreds of thousands of dollars--and may involve reworking a buyer's procurement process.

"Trilogy's price only confirms my belief that prices will be dramatically falling in the next 18 months for these products because there are so many competitors out there," said Torrey Byles, an independent market researcher who has worked with Ariba in the past.

In January, another market research firm, Zona Research, found that 15 percent of IT buyers were using intranet-based online procurement, with another 24 percent likely to add that capability by the end of 1999.

"The functionality is there, but the market is untapped, essentially," said Zona's Julia Pickard, an industry analyst. The plethora of competitors suggest that when buyers are ready, software vendors are too, she added, predicting that vendors like IBM will move into procurement too, probably at the high-priced end.

Trilogy's offering will come in not only with a relatively low price, but without integrating into existing systems in buying organizations. The higher-priced vendors generally tout their integration with enterprise resource planning software, which Trilogy currently does not offer.

Trilogy launches with online catalogs from Office Depot, and online software store Beyond.com, formerly called software.net.

Buying Chain launches with more than 100 online suppliers, including companies that use PC configuration software from pcOrder, a Trilogy spin-off.

Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft will help market Buying Chain. Microsoft is also a major marketing partner of Commerce One, which is atypical among companies in this market in that it collects a transaction fee when an online purchase is completed through its system. Commerce One lists more than a million items in its consolidated online catalog. .

Buying Chain will be available for a 30-day free trial at its Web site starting September 1. The server software runs on Windows NT and supports Oracle, Informix Software, and Microsoft databases. Users access the system with a Web browser.