E-commerce is the way of the future, but the costs involved can be prohibitive, particularly for smaller resellers.
So says Mick Veverka, managing director of Australian software developer Rocketfuel. The company has designed an e-commerce package that will allow resellers, distributors and vendors to work together to sell goods over the Internet.
Called e-seller, the package works in a similar way to Microsoft's Net Interactive Technology for Resellers Online (NITRO), however it relies on resellers referring customers to the site. NITRO operates in the opposite way -- customers log on to the Microsoft Web site and it then refers them to resellers.
"I think the whole reseller community feels the Web is a threat to their business and their livelihood," Veverka said. "So this is a package which lets them still be able to operate on the Web and still get paid percentages for not losing their hard-earned customers."
Veverka said the software provides resellers with their own "front door" to either a vendors or distributors' Web site.
"Every e-seller gets an account on the server," Veverka explained. "As a reseller, I will send my customers through to my front door, and as long as they go through the right door, the software can track it all the way through the system.
Veverka said the reseller had to reach an agreement with the distributor or vendor on the commission rate and on the hosting agreement.
He said that orders are typically sent direct from the supplier to the customer. "The e-seller doesn't really get involved with the whole thing. That's not to say it can't be done, it's the way most people like to do it," he said.
"If a reseller has got a Web site, they just need to put a link over to the suppliers' Web site. If, for example, I was a reseller for IBM and my company name was Mike's Computers, my front door would be www.ibm.com/mikescomputers/The software comes in a number of modules, including one for the reseller and one for the host, whether it's a distributor or vendor. The host software includes the Secure Checkout module, which does all the online transaction processing.
Veverka said e-seller is targeted mainly at OEMs and distributors. Customers, he says, that would continue to operate through their existing reseller networks and look after them on the Internet.
The success, or otherwise, of the product remains to be seen. e-seller was launched two weeks ago and has not yet been sold to any users. However, Veverka is optimistic about e-seller's success.
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