Tech Industry

New tools to build online stores

ShopZone, the new software for developers of small Web storefronts, is an update of Breakthrough's Internet business tools.

Breakthrough Software, a two-year-old firm that counts Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak on its board, next week will ship new developer tools for creating online storefronts and unveil a new developer program.

Called ShopZone, the new software for developers of small Web storefronts is an update of Breakthrough's Internet Business Breakthrough tools for businesses to create their own Web stores. The announcement is set for the Summer Internet World trade show next week in Chicago.

"It's easy to make money if you service large enterprise accounts, but for small to mid-sized businesses, to build a site from the ground up can be very costly," Trevor Stout, Breakthrough's CEO, said.

"Just as in the early days of computing when a handful of products fueled the PC revolution, so too will products like ShopZone fuel the Internet e-commerce revolution," Wozniak said in a statement.

ShopZone is targeted for professional Web developers with some e-commerce experience and is designed for sites of companies with revenues less than $25 million. A key feature includes the ability to publish storefronts to many different ISPs or hosting services.

The new offering enters a relatively crowded developer tools market for e-commerce, where players include Microsoft, Open Market through its May 1 acquisition of ICentral, iCat, Vision Factory, Mercantec, and Intershop.

Features include wizards to create catalogs, shopping carts, order forms, shipping rates, tax schedules, discussion groups, electronic forms, a search engine, integration with Intuit's QuickBooks accounting software and popular HTML editors, built-in ODBC relational database connectivity, and graphics templates.

The product also lets store owners manage their own sites to update pricing, create new categories, and other functions.

ShopZone also supports online payments through SSL, CyberCash, and its IC Verify subsidiary.

Breakthrough has agreements with ISPs Verio, MindSpring, and Best Internet. It's also working with Card Service International to help set up merchant accounts simply.

The developer program provides, among other things, run-time license of the software and copies for prototyping For a limited time, qualified developers can join free and get ShopZone at no charge if they develop a site within 30 days.

ShopZone, priced at $995, will be available for download at Breakthrough's Web site. Run-time licenses are available to members of the new developer program.

Also at next week's Internet World, IBM expects to announce several new e-commerce customers and resellers.