IBM offers vendors more online content control

IBM Corp. broadened its electronic commerce offerings with the launch on Wednesday of its MerchantReach for e-commerce package, designed for corporate customers to more efficiently track and tailor consumer data.

Based on IBM's WebSphere Commerce Suite, MerchantReach includes over 200 standard reports and analysis tools that provide corporate users with product information and online customer service as well as real-time access to inventory, IBM said in a statement.

IBM did not release pricing guidelines, saying that the package of software and services, which are available now, is priced per customer according to individual needs.

Included in the package is a program called Lotus Sametime, which allows retailers to chat in real time with customers online, IBM said. MerchantReach also allows information to be customized for such things as product offers and promotions, IBM said.

IBM launched WebSphere Commerce Suite version 5.1 in April for its iSeries AS/400 product as part of its global electronic commerce push. The upgraded WebSphere added mobile commerce support, new functions such as region-specific sales tax and shipping rules, and localized payment methods and pricing. Other new product lines designed to work with the newest version of WebSphere include WebSphere Commerce Suite for Digital Media, which IBM released on July 25. The line of products and services is aimed at media companies and address media-specific issues, such as digital rights management and protection, while helping those companies to sell media content online, IBM said.

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