IBS Offers Turnkey E-Commerce Solution

In the paradigm shift occasioned by the advent of e-commerce, small- to mid-size companies have traditionally lagged behind their larger Fortune1000 brethren, lacking both the resources and the training to implement e-commerce solutions.

With the introduction of IBS Express, an integrated suite of applications preloaded on IBM AS/400e series machines, International Business Systems (Folsom, Calif.) hopes to provide small- to mid-size companies in the wholesale distribution space with a turnkey e-commerce solution.

"[IBS] Express is all about giving these companies a global solution focused on the wholesale industry, really down to the smaller and medium-sized level, so that they can position themselves better for the e-commerce age," says Randy Ferre, VP of marketing with IBS.

To that end, the IBS Express package features a number of applications specifically tailored for the wholesale distribution industry preloaded on the IBM AS/400e.

IBS Express’ most salient component is an Internet Connection Manager developed to provide capabilities such as electronic catalog publishing, online transaction support and Web site hosting. The IBS Internet Connection Manager can also allow organizations to provide complete Web access to their inventories, which can allow potential customers to view real-time counts, IBS’ Ferre explains.

IBS Express also provides organizations with the ability to develop and manage forecasting and replenishment operations, in addition to managing multi-currency/language capabilities. IBS Express is equipped to run natively with IBM’s DB2 database and leverages Lotus Domino. To ease distributed management, IBS Express can be administered from a browser GUI interface.

According to Larry Lapide, VP and service director for supply chain strategies with Boston-based AMR Research, IBS Express is IBS’s initial foray into the small- to mid-size wholesale distribution marketplace.

Within the context of this marketplace, Lapide points to an emerging trend – termed "disintermediation" – in which large wholesale distributors are shifting from a "buy, hold and sell" sales paradigm to a sell, source and ship model. This latter model emulates the low-inventory, low-overhead benefits of a typical e-commerce-type infrastructure.

"This trend of disintermediation means that companies must fundamentally change how they do business by speeding things up along the supply chain and not maintaining large inventories," Lapide says.

According to Lapide, IBS Express is a type of "good start" turnkey solution with which small distributors can remain competitive and equip their IT infrastructures for e-commerce. "They’re offering more of a turnkey solution that makes sense for a wholesale distributor, a relatively low-cost e-commerce solution that offers all kinds of capabilities," Lapide concludes.

According to IBS’s Ferre, IBS Express can also help fulfill a demand in a small- to mid-size wholesale distribution space in which smaller ISVs typically lack both the tools and the expertise to provide robust application packages equipped for the new global economic marketplace.

"[With regard to] our competitors on the low end, their mindset is very domestic and smaller, they’re not really thinking about enabling business for a global marketplace," Ferre says. "They typically don’t have the language or currency capabilities that we do, and they simply lack a global perspective on things."