Online Purchasing Service Offers Co-op Buying

BOSTON (01/31/2000) - Small businesses that elect to do their purchasing online at the Inc. Web site will soon be able to get the kinds of deep discounts that are usually limited to the very largest corporations, according to the chief executive of the Austin, Texas-based company.

"Anyone can now buy at the same price that a Fortune 100 company can -- that's never been done before," CEO Bo Holland said.

The new Cooperative Buying Program, which allows member companies to get discounts of up to 30 percent on office supplies, computer accessories and other selected products sold on the site, is one of several enhancements that is rolling out this Friday, Holland said.

A deal with computer product distributor Ingram Micro Inc. will add about 10,000 computer products, including software, printers, PDAs (personal digital assistants), monitors, scanners, storage devices and add-in cards to the roster of products that users of the Web site can purchase, Holland said. is also improving integration between its site and back office accounting systems through its Business Document Exchange. This allows customers to electronically download invoices for purchases made on to their accounting systems, either in a generic format or in one compatible with accounting systems from vendors such as Great Plains Software Inc. and Peachtree Software Inc., according to Holland.

To participate in the Cooperative Buying Program, users pay an annual fee of $50 and commit to using to manage 75 percent of their business product spending; members can opt out at any time, according to the company.

Also new to the site on Friday will be a Custom Purchase Request feature, which allows users to create and manage purchase requests through the system for any merchant, and enhanced reporting capabilities that give managers additional views of their companies' purchasing activities. can be reached at +1-512-685-8600 or on the Web at

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