IBM spruiks cheap Web development opportunities

IBM spruiks cheap Web development opportunities

IBM continued its drive into the SME e-commerce market last week by unveiling a Web-authoring tool, which the vendor claims will enable SMEs to build an e-commerce-enabled Web site within a few days.

The product, called HomePage Creator, is available to small-to-medium customers over the Web on a pay-per-month basis, according to Jeremy Pollard, small business solutions marketing manager for IBM Australia and New Zealand.

HomePage Creator enables Web site creation and includes secure online credit card transactions, domain name support, networking capabilities to "link" with other Web sites, automated registration with 20 search engines and a free 30-day trial.

Although available directly over the Internet, Pollard said there are a number of opportunities for channel partners to resell the product, with IBM currently talking to its existing and potential partners.

He said that while low margins can be made on the product, more significant revenues can be derived from "hand-holding" customers through the Web site construction process and adding value to the product at the back end.

Pollard expects these revenue opportunities to operate on two levels for IBM Web affiliates. Smaller Web developers with a design focus stand to benefit, while larger VARs, which can offer back-end business solutions and software, should also succeed.

Pricing is based on five plans, starting from the Basic plan ($35 per month plus $35 initial set-up fee for the creation of a Web site without e-commerce capabilities) to the Platinum plan ($300 per month plus $300 set-up fee with real-time credit card processing and up to 500 catalogue items). The e-commerce transactions are arranged through payment service provider Telstra Surelink Shopsafe.

One of Australia's first users of HomePage Creator is Starion Team Peugeot, a competitor in Australia's Super Touring Championship. The team's manager, Paul Grimm, expressed his support for the product and its ease of update functionality.

"My job is to run a race team, not to become a webmaster - so I was looking for a solution that was easy to use and manage, and allowed me to update race results and photos from the track," he said.

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