Compaq Unveils Portal Effort - InformationWeek

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Compaq Unveils Portal Effort

Compaq Computer today unveiled an E-commerce alliance aimed at building the business-to-business Web portal that AltaVista never became.

Compaq said it will begin using E-commerce and inventory management software from pcOrder.com to customize purchasing pages for small and midsize businesses, enterprise customers, and consumers this year. At the top of the agenda is a plan to introduce this summer online catalogs tailored for emerging enterprises, said Tami Mallett, Compaq's VP of E-commerce systems. "We are planning an aggressive roll out of personalized extranets."

The way Compaq envisions its plan, small and medium business customers will be able to order products and services that match users' size and industry, at prices dependent on their volume of business with Compaq. The vendor could either sell directly to users or pass online orders to channel partners, adding the opportunity to purchase third-party software and peripherals along the way.

On the back end, pcOrder will track pricing, availability of components and add-ons, and route orders through the supply chain. Christie Jones, president and COO of pcOrder, says because Compaq is leveraging common applications across different customer segments, it can roll out various offerings more quickly than by building each separately.

In past interviews, Compaq executives had hoped the company's AltaVista subsidiary could one day become the portal for delivering targeted products and services to business users and consumers. The site has been primarily a consumer resource, however, and today Compaq.

Eric Brown, a senior analyst at Forrester Research, said enhancing its business-to-business Web sales is a logical way for Compaq to boost coveted direct sales while maintaining channel relationships. For one, sales to business users yield lucrative service and training sales for resellers. In addition, more customized offerings can help Compaq differentiate its products from those sold through the channel, helping the vendor sidestep price-based competition with resellers, Brown said.

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