Microsoft, Commerce One, Ariba, and Clarus on Monday announced the initial phase of an initiative intended to make it easier for companies to establish an e-commerce presence, according to a source close to the companies.
The program, dubbed SupplierExpress, enables companies to build catalogs to display their product or service offerings, accept orders, and help enable shipment, according to the source.
"The idea is to make companies much more efficient and more profitable as time goes by," the source said.
To that end, SupplierExpress is designed to help suppliers improve time to market and adapt and change e-marketplaces more easily.
The initiative is based on Microsoft's Commerce Server and BizTalk Server as well as products from the other member companies.
The companies also announced a pilot program, in which a core set of vendors that want to move in this direction will participate and provide feedback. To make the most of this feedback, the companies are building an advisory committee that will help steer the development of Commerce Server and BizTalk Server.
"The solutions that initially will be available are a first step to enabling companies to do business over the Web, but it certainly isn't the final solution," the source said.
After installing the SupplierExpress and configuring a site for business, a logical next step would be to register with the Universal Description Discovery and Integration (UDDI) directory, according the source familiar with the announcement.
UDDI is an XML-based standard that enables vendors to register their businesses in a Web-based database that will help them match up with partners to carry out e-commerce transactions. Microsoft, Ariba, and IBM announced UDDI in September. A business would build its online presence with SupplierExpress, then register with the directory to gain exposure to more customers.