Staples Integrates Catalogs, Procurement Software

FRAMINGHAM (04/03/2000) - Staples.com today announced that its online contract customers can access their personalized catalogues and pricing at the StaplesLink.com e-commerce site via several major vendors' electronic procurement systems.

The announcement represents a major advance in the overall trend toward more tightly integrating online customers' back-end procurement systems with the ballooning number of business-to-business electronic marketplaces.

By 2004, Forrester Research Inc. is predicting that e-marketplaces will account for 53 percent of online transactions. So far, however, the marketplaces have largely remained online islands, separated from users' internal electronic purchasing systems.

For example, of the 600 online exchanges tracked by AMR Research Inc. in Boston, only 10 provide application integration.

"At this point, a lot of transactions are still happening by phone and by fax and by e-mail," says AMR analyst Kimberly Knickle. The goal, she said, is to remove human intervention from the marketplace - all the faxes, phone calls, paper invoices and cutting and pasting that currently keep marketplaces running.

The procurement software vendors that will offer a direct link to StaplesLink.com are Ariba Inc., Intellisys Electronic Systems, Oracle Corp., Commerce One Inc. Netscape Communciations Corp. and RightWorks Technologies Inc., according to the announcement. Ariba is now conducting pilot tests with the Framingham, Mass.-based office supplies company. A time frame for establishing those links or implementing any upgrades that may be needed to add them was not addressed.

Customers with the procurement software that want access to the Staples catalog can contact Staples and the catalog will be integrated automatically via XML technology from WebMethods Inc., a Staples spokesperson said.

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