From The Front Line: E-Store In A Box

Ten years in electronic commerce seems to be an impossibility, but I have found an organization who can claim such a record. Dydacomp Development, in Montville, NJ, (, created Mail Order Manager (MOM) in 1988, and has recently expanded the offering to be 100 percent Internet interactive.

The marriage of this tried and proven product -- 12,000 users of MOM -- to third-generation Web technology allows any size company to initiate a Net presence. At the same time, MOM provides for Internet sales to be securely taken, downloaded into a very flexible order management system and -- very importantly -- incorporated into a great number of existing accounting systems. Use of this product, either by small or large companies, eliminates the need to hire consultants and HTML programmers.

Dydacomp recognized that one of the major problems in creating a fully-integrated mail-order computer system was the necessity of ‘piecing together’ several packaged systems to produce an integrated general accounting, contact management, mailing, inventory, etc. system.

The main portion of MOM consists of a complete solution, incorporating inventory, advertising, order entry and processing, customer service, and management reporting. The amazing part of this package is its price – $1,795!

Another great feature is MOM’s automatic interface into many of the most popular PC general ledger software packages, including Peachtree, Great Plains, MAS 90 and Quick Books. In addition to the basic system, Dydacomp offers eleven additional options, ranging from Interactive Credit Card Authorization, Point of Purchase Module, a Zip/State/Town Database and a user-friendly Report Writer.

I spoke to Dave Kopp, president of Dydacomp, to find out more about their new offering, SiteLINK. He offered the following, "As automation providers to the direct marketing industry, we’re very excited about the possibilities afforded traditional catalogers on the Web. Let’s face it, catalogers know how to sell things by mail and phone already. The Web is just another media dimension for them -- not a brand new business. If anyone is going to succeed in Web commerce, it’s the cataloger who is already operating a successful and established direct sales business.

"It’s precisely this philosophy of what Web commerce is and can become that makes the integration of SiteLINK and MOM interesting. SiteLINK uses database power to create a Web commerce front-end for the catalog business using Active Server Page (ASP) technology to literally build Web pages of products direct from MOM’s stock file. Add in a sophisticated customer ‘shopping cart’ and easy-to-use templates for hundreds of design options, and you have a ready-to-sell commerce site," Kopp explained.

"Plus, because the orders are automatically structured for the MOM customer and order database, order downloads are imported seamlessly right into the MOM system for fulfillment and customer service."

SiteLINK is offered as either a hosted or self-hosted version. If you have an NT Web server, you can host your own copy of SiteLINK using the ToolKit version which sells for $2,795. For those companies relying on an ISP, Dydacomp can host your commerce site and existing Web site for a monthly fee of $195.

When I asked Kopp where he saw the largest target audience for the SiteLINK product, he responded, "Although we built SiteLINK for catalogers and direct marketers using Mail Order Manager, there is an ever expanding market of brand new Web merchants who are quickly realizing that is not enough just to have a Web commerce site or store. You have to connect this store to some kind of back-end processing engine. The MOM/SiteLINK combination is a revelation for these ‘Webpreneurs’ once their business expands to the point where simple order e-mails just don’t work anymore."

Throw in tech support, reachable by phone, fax or e-mail, regularly scheduled classroom training, continuous software updates, online help and extensive documentation, and this product appears to be a boon to those wishing to enter the e-commerce market with a minimum amount of cash, time and computer expertise.

Bob Lewis is VP of IT at the FoodService Purchasing Cooperative Inc. (Louisville, Ky.). He can be reached at