BT will share its list of equipment and services suppliers with rivals and other businesses as it prepares to launch its Market Site e-commerce community.
The site, hosted and piloted by the telecoms giant, is believed to be the UK's largest e-commerce site for selling products and services such as computer equipment, furniture, stationery and travel services. It is expected to go into full production in the third quarter of this year.
The service is designed to enable businesses of all sizes to purchase goods from member suppliers. BT will charge vendors a transaction fee based on purchase orders, while business customers will retain any existing contractual arrangements they have with participating companies.
High street retailer Boots is one of the first users of the scheme - BT said it wanted to purchase 95 per cent of its indirect goods through Market Site. It has not yet confirmed who will provide the computer equipment, but observers speculate that BT could tie up with Dixons.
The site is based on technology licensed from Commerce One, a US e-commerce specialist which has similar relationships with US and Japanese telcos MCI Worldcom and NTT. According to Mike Micucci, product manager at Commerce One, the eventual goal is to hook up the two sites with BT's.
'There have been large barriers to business-to-business commerce being adopted on a wide scale. Electronic data interchange (EDI) is one way, but it's trading between a few large players,' he said.
'Market sites are open trading communities between many vendors. We connect buyers to sellers over the internet - it's just one connection to an e-commerce-ready community. You don't have to have an EDI system.'
Businesses pay $500,000 for a 200-seat licence for Commerce One's buyer access software. Alternatively, they can purchase procurement hosting services from operators such as BT.
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