BayBuilder Delivers Profitable Reverse Auctions

SAN MATEO (06/05/2000) - If your next move is to make doing business via the Internet more dynamic but you want to devote as few IT resources as possible to the job, you should investigate the options offered by ASPs (application service providers). BayBuilder offers an outsourced solution for conducting digital exchanges, handling all customization for a branded reverse auction site for surprisingly little money.

BayBuilder customizes its three commerce solutions: Auctions, Reverse Auction for Procurement, and Trading Exchanges. I reviewed Reverse Auction for Procurement, which was launched in April. This Web-based service has a clean interface with out-of-the-box features, including supplier e-mail notification, reporting features, and discussion between buyer and seller. A BidTicker for Windows or Palm devices helps bidders track their auction status and perform offline bids.

Competing with industry leaders such as FreeMarkets Inc. with its reverse auction service, BayBuilder offers an inexpensive alternative. Starting at $20,000, Reverse Auction for Procurement is less expensive than its competitors, even including customization and 24-hour technical support. With it, companies will save money by conducting reverse auctions online, eliminating travel costs, and expanding their global reach. In addition, they can avoid IT expenses for additional resources or staffing.

I accessed a test site, added my suppliers and auctions, and then placed bids on the auctions I was invited to attend. To do this, I used the service's two straightforward modules: the Procurement Manager for administrators and the Supplier Module for buyers. The administrator module is for creating auctions, maintaining suppliers and groups, and managing the e-mail notification text.

While playing the role of administrator, I added suppliers by filling out online forms and associating them with groups, such as computer equipment.

Suppliers must be added manually, which gets cumbersome for companies with an abundance of suppliers. I would have liked Reverse Auction for Procurement to import suppliers, which can be accomplished only with customization from BayBuilder. I also added upcoming auctions and was prompted to invite suppliers to participate. Similar to but not as extensible as the Ariba solution, I could set rules and options for my auctions, including how many bids could be placed.

Also, I could run reports from the Procurement Manager for individual suppliers that gave information on the auctions they had won. Although the reporting features are limited, BayBuilder will customize reports as customers request.

As a bidder, the clean interface offered information regarding the auctions to which I had been invited as well as let me submit questions to the seller. Also useful was having the ability to view what other bidders had asked. But I did not like seeing all of the associated images listed as attachments, rather than embedded in the description as is the case with Ariba's service.

Companies jumping into dynamic commerce will benefit from BayBuilder's affordable solution. With this service, your company can conduct negotiated pricing with reverse auction procurement in a customized interface, without the expense of extra infrastructure and staff.

Senior Analyst Lori Mitchell (lori_mitchell@infoworld.com) covers auction tools.

THE BOTTOM LINE: GOOD

Reverse Auction for Procurement

Business Case: BayBuilder can get your reverse auction site up quickly and inexpensively, allowing you to sell more products or services via negotiated pricing and to decrease operational costs by eliminating travel costs to and from auction locations.

Technology Case: Reverse Auction for Procurement obviates the need for additional IT staff and increased hardware requirements.This easy-to-use service also requires no specialized skills to manage or buy and sell from your company's reverse auction site.

Pros:

+ Palm-enabled

+ Includes Windows Desktop BidTicker

+ Incurs no IT staffing expenses

Cons:

- Some features missing for Netscape users- Images not embedded in auction descriptions- No out-of-the-box import featureCost: $20,000, plus $799 a month for hosting (includes wireless option, GUI customization, free around-the-clock online support, and toll-free access)Platform(s): ASP model: Microsoft Internet Explorer preferredBayBuilder, Boca Raton, Florida; (888) 516-2297; www.baybuilder.com

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