ESprocket Brings the Bazaar to a Site Near You

SAN MATEO (06/02/2000) - Later this month, eSprocket Corp. will look to distinguish itself in the crowded e-marketplace arena by offering a negotiation table for its newly announced online used capital-equipment market.

One of the greatest challenges facing online exchanges is that most e-marketplaces enable negotiation only on the basis of price, when real-world negotiations often include factors such as quality and availability, according to Shawn Willett, an analyst at Current Analysis Inc., in Sterling, Virginia.

Further highlighting the disparity between traditional modes of haggling and the recent online manifestations, Dan O'Neil, president at Hologix Inc., said that real negotiations are dynamic, requiring many attributes in the negotiation process.

"You get conversations that say, 'I can beat that price if you're willing to take a lower quality, or if you're willing to take a higher quality, we can match; or you [have] to give me a little higher price [and] [I can] get it to you sooner, too,' " O'Neil said.

The negotiation table that eSprocket has formed creates a permanent file for each listing, siphoning all pertinent information into the file, which enables dynamic communication between the seller and the buyer, according to Ben Coes, CEO and president at eSprocket.

Also seeking to incorporate the broker into its negotiation process, eSprocket stresses the importance of human interaction to the negotiation process, Coes said.

One rival in this space, software developer Hologix, approached the negotiation issue from a different perspective, automating the process with its attribute engine, Attricom.

Targeted at public trading exchanges, Attricom enables negotiation based on customizable, defined attributes such as quality, delivery time, and features of the products or services, Hologix's O'Neil said.

But, Coes contended that automating the negotiation process may remove the human element that is critical in certain industries such as the used capital-equipment market in which more than 90 percent of transactions use an intermediary.

Within the negotiation table, eSprocket offers features such as access to shipping, financing, appraisals, and inspections, according to Coes.

Coes noted that eSprocket chose to first target the used capital-equipment market because the majority of the market requires negotiation capabilities.

"North of 95 percent of this market moves to a negotiated sales format, whereas less than 5 percent goes to an action," Coes said.

With its headquarters in Boston, eSprocket Corp. can be reached at www.esprocket.com. Hologix Inc., in Phoenix, is at www.hologix.com.

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