June 2, 2005, 12:00 AM

SPONSORED SUPPLEMENT: E-Commerce Systems That Do It All for Retailers

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In addition, he says, mid-market retailers should look for a vendor that provides integrated e-commerce and back-office capabilities. Further, he says, retailers should integrate customer interaction channels to gain a better understanding of customers so they can better merchandise each channel appropriately and learn how to market to various consumer segments more effectively. "To realize these advantages, they must use underlying technology that integrates such customer interaction channels," Marrah says.

Ecometry got its start as a provider of applications to catalog merchants with an integrated suite of catalog management, call center, campaign management, order management, shipping, warehouse management, inventory management and interfaces to financial systems, then expanded into e-commerce and analytics capabilities.

Ecometry`s parent company recently acquired Blue Martini Software to add multi-channel interaction capabilities to Ecometry`s solution. Blue Martini software includes a scalable e-commerce solution, guided selling, gift registry on the web and at a kiosk, messaging ability at retail point-of-sale terminals, clienteling for the sales associates, dialog marketing, analytics and loyalty programs.

"We will continue to expand our footprint and will explore acquisitions in the area of merchandizing and store operations in the future, to become a provider of integrated consumer-facing, mid-office and back-office applications to the retail industry," Marrah says.

Venda offers an e-commerce platform built on technology that the company developed, sold to fashion retailer Boo.com, then re-acquired at fire-sale prices after Boo.com went out of business in 2000. Boo garnered a huge amount of attention during its short life--mostly for the slick web site it built and its brash, up-to-the-minute approach to fashion retailing. Boo, however, was ahead of the market, Max observes, with a flashy, image-heavy site that required broadband Internet connections years before most shoppers had broadband in their homes. That worked to Venda`s benefit, however, when Boo went down and Venda snapped up its technology.

Removing the hurdle

Today, with no investment in the technology to recover, Venda is selling its services at a flat monthly rate for everything a retailer needs to be online, Max says. "We`re taking a huge technology hurdle out of the way of the middle tier market," he says.

Venda already has a base of customers in Europe and is making its move into the U.S. It boasts a grid computing network that runs many sites today. Venda leverages its expertise running those sites to create applications for customers. All customers thus get the benefit of what Venda develops for each customer and the core functionality is woven into the Venda system. "When new functionality is required, it doesn`t mean a massive overhaul of the entire platform," Max says.

Venda fashions its core capabilities into the look and feel of each customer`s web site. Those capabilities include everything from running the web site to providing search and navigation technology, cross-selling and upselling, transaction and payment processing, order fulfillment, customer service and marketing.

Like many vendors who offer comprehensive e-commerce services, Venda believes that a one-platform e-commerce system is the wave of the future because it can offer the flexibility and scalability that are in demand today. "Retailers are ready for a change in the way they deploy their online channel," Max says.

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