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Intershop updates Net store tools

The e-commerce software maker rolls out a new version of its Web storefront suite and adds new features.

E-commerce software maker Intershop Communications is attempting to carve out a niche in an increasingly crowded market.

The company has rolled out the next version of its software suite, Intershop 3. The package includes new features such as the Graphical Store Design Wizard, which provides less-experienced merchants with an 11-step, point-and-click method of creating a new storefront, the company said.

In addition, a new Staging Wizard allows merchants to copy a live store, update it with product, pricing, graphics, or a completely new design, and then transfer new information back to the live store without closing up shop, according to Intershop.

Intershop 3 also includes additional Java store banners that can be linked to external sites, or from within the store to the appropriate product page, or directly to a shopping cart for purchase. User-defined template language extension (TLE) variables allow designers to create their own values for colors, images, and banners and apply them to templates within any number of stores.

The package also supports a wide selection of third-party payment tools including CyberCash, VeriFone's vPOS, Brokat, and others. It also includes support for a host of languages including English, German, French, and Norwegian, the company said.

Intershop 3 is now shipping for Windows NT in three editions--Merchant, Hosting, and Developer. Businesses can use the Developer release free of charge to set up Web storefronts. Intershop charges only when a store goes live.

The Merchant version is priced from $4,995 for a single store license, and can be extended to host additional stores. The Hosting version, priced at $12,500, is designed for ISPs and Internet malls that seek to host storefronts for merchants who don't want to do it themselves.

Intershop competes with a growing crowd of software companies, including iCat, Vision Factory, and others, in offering tools for building Web storefronts.