Macca's foray into Net loses its sizzle

McDonald's seems set to sideline an Internet-enabling e-comm solution for EDI transactions it piloted with a newly launched Australian service provider.

The fast food chain cooked up the plan to Web-enable its EDI (electronic data interchange) transactions late last year, agreeing to the pilot with GE ECXpress, a joint venture formed in October 1998 between GE Information Systems (GEIS), and a consortium including Indonesian company Emtek, and Australian businessmen John Singleton and Mark Carnegie.

However, now the pilot is over, McDonald's has no plans to roll out the ECXpress solution.

According to Andre Guichon, managing director, Australia of GE ECXpress, the pilot went well, but "[McDonald's] has decided to go another way I think," Guichon said.

"It is looking at which solution it will roll out. It might not be the one we have developed here." Guichon said he understood McDonald's was considering an e-commerce solution developed in the US.

According to a McDonald's spokesperson, the company is currently reviewing its e-commerce strategy, and looking at "various options.

"The pilot conducted was small and was intended as a proof of concept. [It] proved the concept and we would expect to use some form of Internet-enabled EDI in the future.

"However, no specific plans have been made," the spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, another ECXpress e-commerce pilot, with music ordering organisation and long-time GEIS client, Aeros (the Australian Electronic Records Ordering System), has experienced delays due to Y2K difficulties.

Aeros is an online venture that lets music retailers order titles from participating wholesalers.

"We had some issues related to the fact that [Aeros has] a DOS-based workstation," Guichon said, adding: "To make a DOS environment Y2K compliant is not the easiest thing to do."

"I guess the scope of the project was bigger than [it] expected," commented one member of Aeros' IT steering committee.

"I think by the end of this month [all Aeros users] will be able to use the new system," Guichon said. GE ECXpress' e-commerce centre in Sydney, initially scheduled to open in November 1998, eventually opened last month.

One reason for the holdup was the delayed delivery of hardware components including Unix machines and routers, Guichon said.

Another reason was a decision to offer more services at the centre than the partners had originally planned, he said.