Aims for Scale in E-Commerce

HONG KONG (03/03/2000) - Inc., a U.S.-based startup, this week announced plans for an Internet commerce platform for the sale of thousands of products from China to consumers in that country and around the world.

Beyond offering its own portal as a place to sell products, Best-of-China will offer a package of services to businesses, including transaction processing functions that can run on Best-of-China's data centers.

The company initially will help vendors set up systems for transactions and distribution, which later can be used for business-to-consumer e-commerce, according to Chief Executive Officer Ralph Miller.

The infrastructure will reach beyond PC users by supporting WAP (Wireless Application Protocol), so its own portal and other companies' sites can be accessed on mobile phone handsets, according to company officials.

To deal with a boom in e-commerce in the Asia-Pacific region expected by many industry observers, Best-of-China is building a transaction system based on IBM RS/6000 servers in several centers worldwide. IBM has also taken an equity stake in the company, according to a company statement.

Two data centers will initially be set up in Shanghai's Pudong district and one in Hong Kong. Future centers are planned for Beijing, Guangzhou, and later the U.S. and Europe, according to Miller.

Wireless capability is a major focus for the future at Best-of-China, which is eyeing its potential both in China and around the world.

"Wireless is going to be the predominant access method for Internet-related commerce services," Miller said. "China has a unique opportunity to lead the way in the development of these services."

In fact, wireless devices are the most obvious technology for Internet access in China, he added.

"With the largest number of wireless users of any market in the world already, Chinese users are already familiar with the interface," more so than with PCs, Miller said.

Best-of-China will go beyond what's offered by companies such as, which links up buyers and sellers of Chinese exports, by providing value-added services such as payments, logistics, and due diligence, Miller said. The company has formed a partnership with Asia Information Associates Ltd., which gives companies advice on the current regulatory environment.

Still, Miller believes there is room for both companies and more in the large potential market.

"The development of Internet commerce in China really requires the efforts of thousands of companies," he said.

The company said it has lined up several high-profile affiliates to offer products and services, including the Bank of China, Citicorp, Federal Express Corp., China Eastern Airlines Corp. Ltd., and Philips Electronics NV. According to the company statement, the portal will offer more than 1,000 products when it is launched. Inc. is based in San Francisco and can be reached at +1-415-979-9868 or online at

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