Get ready for the Internet to become an even more pervasive force in commerce. In the coming years, successful companies will use the Internet to renew their customer commitment, strengthen ties with partners, and use the power of leading-edge Internet services to enable seamless interaction both within their organizations and throughout their business models, said Bill Gates, chairman and chief software architect, Microsoft Corp., Redmond, Wash., speaking at the company's annual CEO Summit last month in Redmond. "We're experiencing a transition from an 'off-line' economy to a real-time digital on-line economy. Part of the goal here is to help businesses take all the transactions they do today and get them into digital form," he said. This will be the "third phase" of the Internet, Gates said, where information will be stored on the Internet itself. XML (eXtensible Markup Language) will help enable this, and software using this Internet communications protocol will start appearing later this year. XML will replace EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) and go beyond it in terms of applications. It will embrace "the development tools, the databases, even the Office productivity software that let you go out and browse and see things that are going on. So it's really about connecting things," Gates said.
he GlobalFoodExchange site, improve integration and scalability, and be responsible for all technological research and development. "We have in Scott an IT leader who is able to understand the vision we have for the company and can help to predict what our site will need in order to continually refine and enhance our existing applications while simultaneously adding new features," said Mark Moore, co-founder and president of GlobalFoodExchange.com. Meanwhile, GlobalFoodExchange.com and LAN Infosystems, Braintree, Mass., have signed an exclusive agreement to integrate the Windows version of Net-Yield, LAN's inventory and business management desktop application, with GlobalFoodExchange.com's Internet-based trading platform. Through the use of the Net-Yield, GlobalFoodExchange.com users will have the ability to initiate and complete electronic transactions involving purchases and sales of inventory completely on-line through the GlobalFoodExchange.com marketplace, without re-entering the information repetitively. "With this addition, we can provide a true full-service supply-chain solution to our users," Moore said.
Exxel Grocery Supply, Beverly Hills, Calif., launched at the Food Marketing Institute show last month an e-commerce solution to the grocery industry's supplies and packaging challenges. The patent-pending system streamlines and economizes supermarket consumables replenishment activities, while providing grocery retailers, distributors and manufacturers with the means for direct and accurate communication for pricing store-level usage by product, according to the company. The system optimizes in-store inventory and reduces supply-demand chain costs of consumables like paper and T-shirt bags, register tape, produce bags, foam trays, soaker pads, stretch wrap, labels, paperboard, janitorial supplies and fixture supplies. "By automating the entire flow of product and information from the point of production to the point of disbursement, Exxel takes significant costs out of the supply-demand chain and returns it to where it should be -- on the retailers and manufacturers' bottom line," said Herbert Halimi, chief executive officer.
Web-based trade exchanges must foster innovation if they are to provide real value to the entire supply chain, said Roy Roberts, chief executive officer and co-founder of M-Xchange.com, a minority trade exchange based in Detroit. Roberts warned that Web-based trade exchanges that focus on price alone will eventually stifle innovation. Suppliers will slash research and development to meet stringent price requirements. Over time, this will result in products that will not meet the end customers' demands for product improvements. Roberts made his remarks at the Planet Automotive Detroit Conference at the State Theatre in Detroit. "Most of the exchanges have emphasized economics -- transaction costs, inventory costs, product costs and reduced distribution costs," Roberts said. "But more focus needs to be placed on developing strategic advantages. Yes, trade exchanges can reduce cost, but they also can facilitate bringing innovative new products to market faster than ever before."
The FOODgalaxy.com subsidiary of Cornerstone Internet Solutions, New York, a business-to-business services provider, has signed a joint marketing and technology agreement with System Concepts, Scottsdale, Ariz., a developer of customized software for business applications and the creator of the Food-Trak Food and Beverage Management Software. Under the terms of the agreement, FOODgalaxy.com and SCI will market each other's applications to the food service and hospitality industries through a two-way interface that integrates their respective e-commerce and back-office inventory management capabilities.
Netegrity, Waltham, Mass., a provider of e-commerce infrastructure solutions for secure portal management, is launching a national seminar series featuring senior analysts from Forrester Research, Cambridge, Mass., an Internet research firm. The series, entitled, "Managing Secure e-Partnerships," will discuss how to build and manage secure e-business networks and business-to-business and business-to-consumer portals and how portal technology has dramatically changed the way companies conduct business with their customers and suppliers. Forrester Research will also share their expertise and research on these e-business networks. The free seminars will be held May 31 in Dallas, June 1 in San Jose, June 6 in Parsippany, N.J., June 7 in Boston, June 8 in Toronto, June 20 in Washington D.C., and June 21 in Atlanta.
Jose Pablo Chaves, of a Costa Rican chicken industry family, is investing $4 million in an on-line electronic marketplace for the wholesaling of chicken and turkeys, called Poultryfirst.com, according to a media report. "I hope to level the playing field for the small- and middle-sized distributors and producers," he said.
Say 'cheese.' J Sainsbury's plc, London, last month held its first on-line reverse auction for a product to be sold in stores: Sainsbury's Economy Mild Cheddar cheese. The auction was conducted on GlobalNetXchange among suppliers who met the retailer's quality and delivery standards. "Auctioning is the latest initiative in Sainsbury's e-commerce strategy and creates greater efficiencies not only for us, but also for our suppliers, whilst ensuring that our high standards of quality continue to exist," said Patrick McHugh, group director of e-commerce. Sainsbury also has established its Partnership in Fresh Food, an initiative that will use the Internet to forge closer links with suppliers. The Internet site was piloted and developed with the Imperial College at Wye, and includes a general news page, information on best practices, technical specifications and Sainsbury's joint research programs. The program will also include workshops aimed at changing the way partners work as part of the food chain. "Setting up this structure of communication through the Internet and workshops will bring great opportunities for development and innovation," said Ian Merton, fresh foods director.