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Alpha eases e-commerce entry

Alpha Software is getting ready to release a shrink-wrapped software package to set up an online order-taking and tracking system.

Setting up an e-commerce Web site may soon be as easy as swinging by CompUSA to pick up the latest version of Doom.

Alpha Software in Burlington, Massachusetts, is getting ready to release a shrink-wrapped software package to set up an online order-taking and tracking system.

Dubbed Online Merchant, the system contains the tools needed to set up a site and guides a user through the process.

Company executives said a user can import their own graphics and use forms instead of a drag-and-drop system. No knowledge of hypertext markup language (HTML) is required.

Users define commerce options such as taxing information, shipping requirements, and pricing structures. They also can set up an unlimited number of catalogs as well as products within those catalogs. The system also allows a user to define promotions on individual products or an entire line that can quickly be changed.

Some clients of early versions of the technology include musical groups Aerosmith, the Rolling Stones, and Phish.

It is priced at $99 and is scheduled to be on computer store shelves in August.

For larger companies, Alpha is developing a commercial version that is scheduled to be available in the fall. It will include links to e-commerce server software systems from Open Market and Cybercash, which have links to package delivery services such as FedEx. It has not been priced yet.