Intranet gives retailers the Leading Edge

With the launch of its computer group's B2B pipeline just days away, The Leading Edge group hopes to encompass more than 200 independent retailers by the New Year.

The group, which was consolidated as The Leading Edge Group Limited, an unlisted private company in July this year, is taking the group-buying concept to new levels, according to CEO Keith Lane.

"Originally buyers' cooperatives were owned by the members and were about better pricing," he said. "Buying group is a bit of a misnomer - it started out that way, but now it is about providing our members with sales and marketing opportunities."

The group includes more than 1020 retailers in fields such as computing, telecoms, home theatre and music. It helps members increase sales through marketing campaigns and catalogues, and increase margins through aggregated purchasing power.

But the most recent innovation - the development of an Intranet for communication between members - will also provide the foundations for the group's future e-commerce projects. Its electronic B2B pipeline makes it easy for suppliers to reach a diverse set of members, Lane said.

Over the next few months, the company will begin including databases to allow retailers to order directly online. While the computing group will go live first, Lane hopes all groups will be thus connected by June 2001.

"We are madly ordering platforms and constructing the site with lots of database functionality," he said. "We have already done the legwork, it is just a matter of putting it together."

The long-term plan is to combine all groups under an umbrella that is a virtual shopping centre - at this stage referred to as LE SHOP.

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