The second step is actually listing your products for sale. Cleveland-based 4 Point Solutions has created CommerceSite, a software solution that allows medium-sized companies to enter e-business at their own pace.
"It's a graphics focused application in that it uses the product images to communicate your products to the visitors," says Brad Nellis, a principal of 4 Point Solutions. "Products can be organized into families with a drill-down capability. For example, you might see a line of hand tools, then be able to see a hammer. The site will do everything a catalog does."
Product descriptions are included with each image and orders can be taken from the site. CommerceSite uses an open database that can be integrated into a variety of business systems.
Companies that aren't quite ready to make the full leap into e-commerce can use CommerceSite as an online catalog, and take orders online but not integrate the system into the rest of the company computers. Those that want advanced functionality can have it tied directly into their business systems.
"Manufacturers in particular are very cautious and risk averse," says Nellis. "We knew this is the way the market would react to it, so it doesn't have to be integrated. The benefits for the client are that it allows them to start at a level they are comfortable with and it can grow as their needs change."
The application is designed to have the same look and feel of the company's existing Web site. Costs vary, but Nellis says most companies are looking at a low five-figure investment. The typical CommerceSite company has about $15 million in sales. The application is hosted on whatever server the company's current site is stored. Changes can either be made by 4 Point Solutions or by the customer, depending on how they structure their contract.
"Our focus is to help our customers be better companies and improve, not making them depend on us," says Nellis.