The International Grocers Alliance (IGA), Chicago, plans to expand its existing on-line exchange so it will connect every point in its global system's supply and distribution channels. Upgrades to IGA's Alliance exchange business-to-business suite will improve communication, serve as a knowledge center and a data warehouse, and facilitate e-commerce. "A unified connectivity will deliver solutions directly to the door of every IGA Hometown Proud Retailer, whether his independent business is located in Johannesburg or Joplin," said Thomas Haggai, IGA's chairman and chief executive officer. "The retailers who represent us in 38 countries around the globe face ever-changing marketplaces that demand a variety of go-to-market strategies. Technology has only increased the pace of that change and heightened the need for speed to market." IGA has been in discussion with various solution providers and in particular with Cerespan.com, Atlanta, to become a strategic partner with the retail industry portal... Larger business-to-business transactions on the Internet driven by joint ventures and other links among financial institutions, suppliers to businesses and companies that facilitate business-to-business commerce on the Internet were predicted by executives speaking at the eFinancialWorld Conference and Exchange held in New York this month. "We are now seeing transactions up to $300,000, and there is still plenty of room to grow," said Alex Stonkus, president and chief operating officer of Actrade International Ltd., New York. "The potential for growing transaction size is limited by the psychology of the lending institutions," said Joe Donnelly, marketing director, financial services of eCredit.com, Westwood, Mass. ... CHEP, Orlando, Fla., has set customer tests of its on-line ordering and reporting service, called 'Portfolio.' Portfolio allows CHEP customers to order CHEP pallets and containers, report equipment movements, review invoices and account history, and create customized reports. The service will eventually integrate existing on-line CHEP systems and provide customers with seamless services worldwide. "Simply put, Portfolio will allow companies to focus on their core competencies, whether they are manufacturing, distribution or retailing," said Bob Moore, chief executive officer of CHEP International. "It is critical that our customer base is able to minimize supply chain costs, improve processes, bring products to market faster and share information. Portfolio is designed to help them do exactly that." Jack Sparn, chief information officer, added, "Portfolio enables customers to maintain their own data on-line and provides single-point, real-time access to ordering and account information. Thus, administrative tasks and costs are reduced. The need to manage redundant sets of information and keep that information synchronized is eliminated." ... Agribuys.com, Torrance, Calif., has expanded into the floral category. "By expanding into the floral category, we are providing all of our customers with yet another convenient way to save time and money," said Marin Kotsianas, president and chief executive officer, Agribuys.com. Alison V. McClelland, who has 19 years experience in the floral business, will head up the floral division at Agribuys.com. McClelland formerly was supervisor of corporate floral buying for Safeway, Pleasanton, Calif.... FreeMarkets, Pittsburgh, a business-to-business e-marketplace, and webPLAN, Ottawa, Canada, an e-business platform for high-velocity supply chains, have formed a strategic alliance to deliver Web-based business-to-business e-marketplace and supply chain management solutions to customers. Customers using the FreeMarkets B2B eMarketplace will be able to use the webPLAN CeO e-Business solution to integrate supply chain management, customer relationship management and product life-cycle management with existing manufacturing systems and processes. "By aligning with webPLAN, we are adding a best-of-breed supply chain management tool to our suite of e-marketplace offerings," said Scott Grimes, vice president, business development, FreeMarkets. "Our partnership with FreeMarkets will enable webPLAN to engage customers with leading-edge e-procurement approaches that can have a rapid impact on their business," added Darryl Praill, vice president, marketing, webPLAN.