IBM on Wednesday will introduce a spruced-up version of its WebSphere Commerce Server that for the first time allows users to operate both b-to-c and b-to-b Web sites from the same software platform.
WebSphere Commerce Professional Edition 5.5 makes it possible for corporate administrators to manage multiple e-commerce sites spread around the world from a single location, which would cut down significantly on administrative and management costs, company officials claimed.
"We think this is an important release of the product because it addresses the more critical issues businesses have to deal with as they try to drive more revenues from their e-commerce sites, while at the same time trying to make it less expensive to manage," said Martin Wildberger, a vice president in charge of WebSphere Commerce at IBM. "We think users can see a quicker return on investment because it streamlines business processes," he added.
Company officials also think the enhanced version can help companies more efficiently deal with their users and business partners in terms of meeting each other's individual requirements. Users can more easily create tailored relationships with each business partner that could allow them, for instance, to offer pre-negotiated pricing discounts and volume quantities without the need to get a salesperson involved in an online transaction, Wildberger said.
This capability, according to Wildberger, allows channel partners to place an online order faster while cutting down on the financial overhead of managing the transactions. End-user organizations can also get more out of the order management capabilities by filling orders from multiple partners based on which channel has the right product and quantity to meet the customer's needs, he said.
The new product also contains analytics capable of automatically spotting online buying trends and then issue alerts so that users can take advantage of such trends by offering relevant discounts or promotions. Additionally, the new version has built-in support for Web services, allowing organizations to integrate with key business processes across the breadth of a supply chain, company officials said.
The entry-level Version 5.5 will be broadly available on June 30, and carry a starting price of US$80,000 per processor. The WebSphere Commerce Business Edition 5.5, intended more for large, high-volume b-to-b e-commerce applications, which includes account and contract management capability and advanced business and security control, will also be available on June 30 and have a starting price of $125,000 per processor.
Both products come with a version of WebSphere Studio that is specifically customized for WebSphere Commerce.