Christmas shoppers buying gifts from Eddie Bauer's Web site in the US last year may have felt high-tech. But behind the scenes, employees were hand-keying those orders into the company's back-end system.
This year will be different. Eddie Bauer, like many major merchants on the Web, is gearing up for a holiday season that may reach $US5 billion, according to Forrester Research in Massachusetts. So experienced electronic retailers are adding hardware and software in readiness.
Those newer to the online merchant game, like Bauer, are pounding together integrated order fulfilment and inventory management systems to catch up in time for the festive season and its lucrative surrounding traffic.
"From what I understand, if you're not ready to go in October, you may have missed the season," said Carol Rozwell, an analyst at GartnerGroup.
Meanwhile, the old players are not sitting on their hands either. Veteran online retailer CDNow said it will launch its new technology by October and complete the work by November 1.
It's pouring $1 million into a huge, 2.4Gbps backbone connection (to replace its three 45Mbps pipes) and a higher-capacity, more fault-tolerant storage system to replace its Symbios Logic RAID arrays, said Michael Krupit, chief development officer at Fort Washington, Pennsylvania-based CDNow.