Every reseller in Australia will soon have the opportunity to rapidly develop e-commerce functionality through Telstra's Yellow Pages Website (http://www.yellowpages.com.au).
While still a few months away from having defined products, Pacific Access, the company licensed by Telstra since the early 1980s to trade on the YP name, have been trialing on-line transactions in 10 popular retail markets, including computer hardware and software.
Two Melbourne resellers taking part in the trial, Centari Systems and Compu Centre, are not yet making great sales from the Yellow Pages site, but both are keenly studying how to address a market they know will eventually come. They also have a head-start on competition in an exciting new market.
The e-commerce solution being fine-tuned for its launch in a few months will be an extension of the well-known trading resource's current Website which replicates the printed Yellow Pages.
Lisa Interligi, group manager, new media, at Pacific Access said all Yellow Pages advertisers were given URLs last year. Soon they will be able to link their own Web pages which, with software called Net Select, which can be customised and enabled for a variety of secure on-line trading models.
Patrick Nolan, marketing coordinator at Centari Systems, said it hadn't recorded a single sale yet through Yellow Pages on-line but attributed that to the fact its range and prices were representative of its focus in corporate markets. He said on-line trading is here to stay and Centari would consider developing consumer solutions in the future believing that if anyone in Australia can deliver an e-commerce market, it would be the Yellow Pages.
"As more people feel confident about purchasing over the Internet, it has to be the consumer market of the future," said Nolan.
"We get really good buy prices from HP because of the volume we do, so we could possibly compete with the mass merchants, but not against the underground market. It also raises a whole lot of issues in regards to our existing markets for whom we are also developing our own on-line solution in-house," he added.
Danny Jovica, national sales manager, for nationally distributing independent dealer, Compu Centre said he is very positive about the trial despite also not having received a lot of direct sales to date.
"It's been very encouraging and I'm very excited about the prospects. Prior to the trial, I wouldn't have though that e-commerce was a viable tool to invest any money into, but I have changed my thinking," he said.
"I have noticed about 100 per cent more visitors to our Web page since having the link from Yellow Pages and the follow-up through that has been very productive for us. Because of the customisation that is wanted in 90 per cent of cases, consumers and corporates are not yet ready for a lot direct transactions over the Net, but it is just a matter of time.
"I think anyone who is expecting to put a Web page up and make a million dollars overnight is kidding themselves at this stage, but at the same time it is another marketing tool which definitely can't be ignored," said Jovica.
Evangelising the potential of e-commerce for computer resellers, Interligi said: "We think e-commerce is a very important area of business for us to move into, given the Yellow Pages is synonymous with bringing buyers and sellers together.
"Our research found small and medium enterprises were very enthusiastic about e-commerce, so we will be releasing a flexible product range later this year allowing them to develop a solution suited to their needs," she said.
"We believe that most businesses in Australia, even the service industry, will be touched by e-commerce and it is our game plan to develop products to meet their varying needs."
This is no charity. Resellers will have to pay for the privilege of utilising the medium, but just as space in the printed Yellow Pages is a compulsory marketing expense for many businesses, so too could the Web site be.
Phone: (03) 9281 3555.