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Small firms to get e-commerce wares

November 13, 1998
Web posted at: 1:15 PM EST

by James Niccolai

SAN FRANCISCO (IDG) -- While the electronic-commerce spotlight has fallen mostly on products aimed at big businesses, the Comdex trade show in Las Vegas next week will play host to a wealth of new offerings designed to allow smaller companies to set up a storefront on the Web.

Out-of-the box e-commerce packages for small and mid-size businesses will represent a fast-growing market in the coming year, said Chris Shipley, editor of DemoLetter, a newsletter for technology developers.

"Small businesses are moving onto the Internet at a phenomenal rate," Shipley said. "A number of hardware and software companies are offering turnkey packages for catalog-building and e-commerce that will allow just about anybody to get on the Net."

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Many of the products make use of easy-to-use, wizard-based interfaces designed to allow even the most technologically inept users to build their own cyberstores.

Here's a glimpse at a few of the new and recently announced products and services on display.

Web Shop

Boomerang Software, in Belmont, Massachusetts, will introduce a new product called Web Shop, a complete e-commerce deployment package that allows companies to create and manage an online storefront, the company said.

Web Shop includes tools for Web site design and software for Web hosting, secure transaction processing, and other capabilities, a company spokesperson said. Due to ship in the United States on December 15, Web Shop will retail for less than $200, said Ken Eppers, director of sales and marketing.

"Once you open the box, within 48 hours you'll be on the Net and doing e-commerce," Eppers said.

VersaCheck Web Commerce

MIPS Dataline America will unveil a software product called VersaCheck Web Commerce, which the company claims will allow anyone to set up an Internet business using a simple, wizard-based environment.

The product includes development tools and software that allows users to establish a Web store front and receive payments in a secure fashion, the company said.

TradeLink Version 2.0

Hitachi Computer Products America will be on hand to discuss details of its recently announced TradeLink Version 2.0 software suite. TradeLink can be used by small companies to create an e-commerce system from scratch, the company said. It can also be integrated into existing networks of large corporations on a modular basis, Hitachi said.

Jumbomall: No-cost storefront

Jumbomall plans to unveil a service that allows businesses to set up an online store at no charge. The company's Web site contains a store-building wizard that includes security, a shopping cart and a secure checkout mechanism, the company said.

Businesses can choose to locate their store in Jumbomall's existing online arcade of about 1200 stores, or host it at their own Web site. Jumbomall makes its money from selling more feature-rich versions of its service to customers with more than about 100 products to sell, a company spokesperson said.

NetSales' hosting service

NetSales will be on hand to discuss details of a new e-commerce hosting service the company announced this week. Building on its existing turnkey electronic commerce outsourcing package, the new service will allow customers to outsource selected aspects of their online business such as transaction processing, fraud screening, and customer support services, the company said.

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