Tips for E-Commerce Solution Shopping
In the ever-changing world of multimedia and shoppers who expect things at the click of the mouse, e-commerce solutions are in high demand. “These days it’s so important to give your Web customers a great experience,” says Jim Morse, president of Morse Data Corp.
To do so, it is important to select solutions that fit your company size, scope, staff and budget. The following advice from several e-commerce solution providers can help guide you through the process of deciding which product works best for your company.
“A publisher should analyze the cost of not only the development of a solution, but the manpower to maintain the solution,” says Bruce A. Miller, U.S. sales executive for Pubnet/PubEasy, an e-commerce solution provider with more than 12,000 registered booksellers in the United States and 21,000 worldwide.
Publishers should also weigh the time-savings potential and other benefits an automated solution would provide against the costs. For example, for publishers evaluating Pubnet/PubEasy, he says, “They should also determine how long it would take to register the number of booksellers that we have waiting for them, once they come on board.”
According to Lee Pierce, vice president of sales at The Media Services Group Ltd., which provides publishing software for books and magazines, an online solution should enhance customer service. “Whether you’re a publisher or a distributor, your business can increase revenues by improving customer and author loyalty through the use of the best and most useful tools for them to do business with you,” Pierce says. “Operating costs decrease, customer care is easier, making life easier for you, your staff, your customers and authors.”
Different solutions providers concentrate on different features. “Each publisher needs to document their requirements to make sure that the system that they select will meet their needs—all systems are not created equal,” says Lorna Fenimore, vice president of Datasystem Solutions, Inc., a provider of business software for the publishing industry.
According to Morayea Pindziak, international marketing manager at Vista International, which provides solutions for global publishers to small, independent operations, “Publishers should look for a solution that makes their data accessible and effectively links across different product lines, offers cost-effective integration with their current systems and increases the value of their applications by having reusable functionality. ...”
Some publishers believe the volume of online business they do doesn’t justify an online solution, but experts disagree. “It doesn’t take nearly the volume that you would think in order to justify implementing a Web-enabled fulfillment system,” says Fenimore.
She says that every publisher needs to do the math to see at what point it can justify ridding its company of manual processing and automatically process the transactions.
Also important is taking the time up front to research the best product for your company’s short- and long-term goals.
“Moving to a new solution is always resource-intensive,” says Robert Coon, president of Dydacomp, a provider of business solutions for publishing. “Even if the solution itself was free, the energy spent from evaluation to implementation is … [costly]. Therefore, a solution should also be scalable enough to hold you over for a minimum of five years’ anticipated growth.”
According to Coon, if you select a lightweight solution, it should offer upgrade paths so you have options down the road.
“Many publishing systems offered for sale today were built back in the ’70s before Windows and the Internet,” says Gregory Beck, vice president of sales at IPRO Business Systems. “Make sure the system can take in the Web-order information automatically and create an order without manual re-entry from an
e-commerce solutions on the market:
Datasystem Solutions Inc.
Description: Datasystem’s Multi-Pub modulated business management solution offers an e-commerce module, called e-sync, for connecting Web sites to fulfillment systems, and for automating ordering, cancellations, expires, etc.
Among Current Users: American Lawyer Media Group, BC Decker, Source Media, Thomson West.
Price Range: Prices start at $20,000, which includes software, consulting, conversion, training and implementation services.
Contact: (913) 362-6969,
Product: Mail Order Manager (M.O.M.)
Description: Dydacomp’s M.O.M. and SiteLink software is designed for the small- to medium-sized operation that processes anywhere from several dozen to several thousand orders daily.
Among Current Users: Yankee Publishing (“Old Farmer’s Almanac”), The Kutztown Publishing Company, Himalayan Institute.
Price Range: Dydacomp’s solutions start at $1,995 plus $195/month for a single-user, single-store solution.
Contact: (800) 858-3666,
Description: GTS’s Unison enterprise resources planning solution for publishing organizations features: industry standard open systems interfaces, streamlined order entry, CRM functionality, five-level customer hierarchy to drive processes and analysis, configured product structure and more.
Among Current Users: Thomson—Tax & Accounting, Thomson—Scientific, CCH Australia (Wolters Kluwer Asia-Pacific), BNA, Greenwood-Heinemann Publishing, Tyndale House Publishers, Scholastic Library.
Price Range: Base price range for a 20-user system is $75,000 to $300,000 including implementation.
Contact: (973) 331-1010,
Product: GoEmerchant e-commerce package
Description: GoEmerchant provides merchant services to small- and mid-sized businesses. Services include Internet, mail-order and retail merchant accounts, shopping cart software, online store builder, virtual terminal, secure payment gateway, Web hosting, domain name registration and more.
Among Current Users: Publishing Inc., Sparkplug Press, Arbor Books, Liberty To The Captives Publications, Corinthian Books.
Price Range: $24.95 to $59.95, depending on the package.
Contact: (888) 638-7867,
IPRO Business Systems
Description: iPUB is an enterprise management solution designed to integrate with optional solutions for: credit card authorization; e-business hosting for customer inquiry, ordering and more.
Among Current Users: Bookstream Inc.
Price Range: Volume-based pricing is available at $35 per month plus 6 cents per sold book. For a site license at a flat rate, the price is $5,500 plus maintenance.
Contact: (866) 879-4782,
Product: Book Sales and Distribution (BSD) module
Description: The BSD module enables order processing for books, loose-leaf editions, electronic or online products and content sales. Features include automatic invoice generation, marketing information and customer-generated invoicing.
Among Current Users: Elsevier, Harper Collins, Pearson Education, Penguin, Springer, Random House.
Price Range: Costs range from $100,000 for smaller companies to several million.
Contact: (800) 239-9254 x102,
The Media Services
Product: MSG’s E-commerce Module
Description: MSG’s E-commerce Module is designed to integrate with MSG’s Book Works—a solution for handling customer service/order entry and fulfillment, reporting and analysis, royalties and subsidiary rights management, job costing, accounting, marketing and campaign management.
Among Current Users: MSG’s software and services serve more than 250 media customers.
Price Range: Software solutions begin at less than $700/month as a hosted solution, including all upgrades and updates.
Contact: (800) 234-4674,
Morse Data Corp.
Product: InOrder System
Description: Morse’s InOrder System is an order-management/e-commerce solution with online client access to data; ability to add internal or external notes to customers’ orders, credits, statements and other records; online shipment tracking; real-time inventory searches; timer-
controlled e-mails and more.
Among Current Users: International Bible Society, University of Arkansas Press, University of California.
Price Range: The software license starts at about $21,000 for a basic five-user system, including the Web shopping cart.
Contact: (708) 873-0010,
Description: Pubnet’s PubEasy, a subsidiary of R.R. Bowker LLC, is a business-to-business e-commerce marketplace for the book publishing industry. It aims to facilitate access to online order placement, tracking, price, title and availability data with participating publishers, distributors and wholesalers, know as “affiliates.”
Among Current Users: Harper Collins, Penguin Group USA, Random House and Simon & Schuster.
Price Range: Pricing tiers are based on overall sales revenues.
Contact: (877) 782-6111,
Product: Trilogy Publishing Manager
Description: Trilogy Publishing Manager integrates mail order, retail and Web sites so that promotions, pricing, customer and order details, products delivery, fulfillment and e-mail shipping confirmations are controlled by one system.
Among Current Users: Financial Times, The British Library, InterVarsity Press, McGraw-Hill Cos.
Price Range: Starting price is $16,000.
Contact: (908) 232-1275,
Description: I-connect is Vista’s library of Web services, which provides a platform for integration with third-party applications. Customer-connect is an out-of-the-box Web-based customer self-service application that leverages access to back office data and functionality provided by i-connect, including inventory queries, ordering, management of authors, products and customer information.
Among Current Users: Elsevier, HarperCollins, Random House, Wolters Kluwer, Penguin, Sterling Publishing.
Price Range: $50,000 for smaller publishers to $500,000 for large publishers.
Contact: (732) 563-9292,
on the Market
The following companies wouldn’t provide price ranges or examples of publishers using their products, but are also options on the market.
Cyber Wolf Inc.
Product: Acumen Book
Description: Acumen Book business management system is designed to be suitable for sites with up to 100 concurrent users. It provides sales, marketing and communication features, integration of business-management functions and reporting tools, with optional models for e-commerce interchange and credit card processing.
Contact: (505) 983-6463,
Description: RightCommerce was designed for the sale of digital goods and services, and to enable media companies of all sizes to manage online sales, content sales and marketing efforts.
Contact: (212) 219-4400,
Description: ImPulse is an e-commerce solution that serves a number of markets, including publishing. It is designed to provide customized consumer experiences.
Contact: (888) 871-3839,
Product: Bookmaster e-Commerce
Description: Bookmaster e-Commerce provides remote access via a standard Web browser. Features include: programmer-free maintenance; real-time interaction with the core system and more.
Contact: (800) 886-3900,
Product: Midas Technology
Description: Midas Technology provides a customized eBookstore solution. Users can connect their Web Sites to OverDrive DRM and e-Commerce servers, add thousands of e-book titles and manage their eBookstore with a PC and Web browser.
Contact: (216) 573-6886,
- American Lawyer Media Group
- Arbor Books
- BC Decker
- CCH Australia
- Corinthian Books
- CyberWolf Inc.
- Datasystem Solutions Inc.
- Elsevier Health Sciences
- Financial Times
- Global Turnkey Systems
- Greenwood-Heinemann Publishing
- Himalayan Institute
- International Bible Society
- International Business Systems
- InterVarsity Press
- IPRO Business Systems/iPub
- Klopotek International North America
- Kutztown Publishing Company
- Liberty To The Captives Publications
- McGraw-Hill Cos.
- Morse Data Corp.
- Overdrive Inc.
- Pearson Education
- Penguin Group (USA)
- Publishing Co
- Scholastic Inc.
- Source Media
- Sparkplug Press
- The British Library
- The Media Services Group Ltd.
- Trilogy Enterprise Systems
- Tyndale House
- University of Arkansas Press
- University of California San Diego
- Vista International
- Wolters Kluwer
- Yankee Publishing