Tools on the Way For Online Sellers

FRAMINGHAM (04/24/2000) - Slowly but surely, more software tools and services to help companies on the sell side of the business-to-business e-commerce equation are hitting the market.

Last week, Haht Software Inc. in Raleigh, N.C., announced its Sellside Exchange, a subscription-based Internet marketplace where suppliers can integrate product, customer and other data into multiple online exchanges. The fee is $5,000 to $10,000 per month.

For example, a manufacturer of electronic components could use Haht's service to feed pricing and product data from its in-house enterprise resource planning (ERP) system to various industry exchanges.

Haht is also offering a companion software product called Sellside Links, which is hosted and maintained by suppliers. It lets suppliers execute business-to-business electronic transactions directly with customers who are using different procurement systems, including software from Ariba Inc., Commerce One Inc. and SAP AG.

The Haht service and software, like the company's business-to-business e-commerce application software, currently support suppliers using SAP R/3 software and J. D. Edwards & Co. enterprise software.

Suppliers said a key potential benefit of more integration is customer retention.

"Continued integration going back to customers' systems is where e-business is evolving, because that's where customers will save money," said Larry Blazevich, CIO at Sigma-Aldrich Corp., a St. Louis maker of specialty chemicals for research laboratories.

Many of Sigma-Aldrich's 60,000 U.S.-based customers are huge pharmaceutical firms with the clout to dictate exactly how they want to run their businesses, Blazevich explained.

"We have to be prepared to accept that," Blazevich said. The bottom line is that "it's the cost of doing e-business."

Using the Haht service and software, suppliers can also deliver customized information from back-end systems to individual customers on Internet exchanges.

The ability to differentiate by providing data beyond prices could attract more suppliers to Net exchanges, said Dan Sholler, an analyst at Meta Group Inc.

More suppliers would mean more choices for buyers, he added.

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