Sydney-based software developer Eastcoast Property Software (EPS) is set to make a debut on the application service provision scene, following an agreement with the Australian Retail Association (ARA) that will see it provide specialised Web-based services to retailers Australia-wide.
To be launched in November, the service will allow over 20,000 ARA members to access EPS-developed management information and comparative benchmarking software over the Internet based on a per-store monthly rental fee.
According to Elisa House, EPS' general manager, the initiative will open up a whole new market for the five-year-old developer, which previously sold the technology to high-end retailers such as Coles Myer and David Jones.
"The reason we're going with the ASP model is that client/server solutions are great for the top end of the market that can afford a significant upfront investment in network infrastructure. But this model doesn't pick up small to medium enterprises, who also need access to those sort of services without having to outlay a huge cost upfront," House explained. "Now, the ASP model allows us to do that."
Known as EPS Professional, the application that the ARA/EPS service will be based on was developed for the retail property industry in need of an automated benchmarking and key performance indicators system.
"It is very hard to find an afford-able service that would help a small retailer who wanted to open a shop in Chatswood and needed information on how much he should be paying in rent, in wages and so on, to get that information," said House.
However, with the new service, she claimed retailers will be able to manage retail occupancy, lease administration, payments, insurance, maintenance, assets, contacts, diaries, as well as measure store performance using the service.
ARA's CEO, Phil Naylor, believes the Web-based service will be the first of its kind in the world and its benefits for ARA members many.
"We are providing application software that the retailer requires at a very economical cost," he said. "And with the focus of many of our members on retail occupancy costs and lease administration, [the service will enable us] to better represent our members."
EPS is in the process of finalising negotiations with Optus, which is expected to join Citrix and Progress as a key partner in the provision of the service, while ARA will act as the key reseller providing the front end for the service.
Meanwhile, EPS management is moving to prepare the family-owned business for capital raising with an initial public offering (IPO) announced for the first quarter of 2000.