Committed to Their Software

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Camdens considered other companies, including BroadVision, Blue Martini Software, Open Market Inc. and Allaire Corp. The company selected Intershop because of the software's multiple-server configuration and support for a wide variety of standards, including Java and XML. According to Yenidjeian, Camdens is especially pleased with the ongoing service from Intershop and the company's willingness to hear suggestions and opinions.

Yenidjeian says the most important benefit of Intershop is its total cost of ownership and cost of implementation, which increases his company's revenue by "lowering the burn rate." Yenidjeian says he would like to see Intershop extend the order/inventory fulfillment logic with added features.

It's About Trust

Regardless of whatever research you conduct to help select an e-commerce engine and regardless of anything you may discover about your competitors' experiences building their sites, your project's success ultimately depends on the quality of the relationship between your company and your application vendor. It's also important to have the right people working together - people who trust one another, says Ritz Camera's Brysha. The software is important, but it's the integration of the implementation team - all the people who will make it work in your own infrastructure - that is the most critical part of the process, he says.

The site owners we interviewed all wanted to focus their energy on building their sites; they didn't want to worry about the tools, scalable infrastructure, secure transaction support, compliance with Internet and industry standards and more. That level of technical expertise exceeds the grasp of most retailers, even those with an IT department. That's why they sought top vendors. Still, to varying degrees, they all experienced problems during the implementation. That's understandable when integrating multitiered software into an existing transactional environment in Internet time. So when obstacles surfaced, the site owners had to wait while the application providers developed new code and patches to get their projects back on schedule. And then, after opening day, they would seek permanent fixes and plan for endless upgrades. They all seemed comfortable with that reality.

Shop At Home's Lambert advises enterprise-class site owners to understand that they will never achieve closure. With a Web site you're never finished, he says. The market constantly evolves, the technology constantly changes. It's a journey, not a destination, he adds.

Millman is a consultant in Croton, N.Y. Contact him at hmillman@ibm.net.

Want to read more about e-commerce? Head to the Computerworld e-commerce community.

Copyright © 2000 IDG Communications, Inc.

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