Resellers in the UK are moving to exploit gaps in the ecommerce market by providing proprietary ebusiness platforms that will allow them to sell high-end services and extend their market reach. Computacenter and First Stop Computer Group both unveiled initiatives last week to provide ecommerce services based on proprietary technology - the start of a trend among resellers. First Stop has set up an independent ebusiness solutions organisation, HookRise Development, to supply business process analysis, site design, secure transactions, web hosting and its proprietary ecommerce platform anyCommerce to customers. The organisation, which will be completely autonomous, has six staff and will be headed by David McTaggart, technical director of First Stop. Shane Gallagher, managing director of First Stop, said the organisation had been set up because customers wanted "identifiable, specialist ecommerce services". He said HookRise will allow First Stop to extend its customer base as it allows the company to take on small and large clients. "It will allow us to address a different type of customer," Gallagher said. He added First Stop developed anyCommerce because of the lack of scaleable products on the market. But he said while the technology will not be a huge money-spinner, the consultancy and development it generates will lead to substantial profit. Gallagher said he also expected other Vars to follow suit because it allows them to bundle profitable high-end services with a product. Meanwhile, Computacenter has launched Biomni, an ecommerce systems company, together with Computasoft e-Commerce. Biomni, which will be run as an independent company, will sell Computacenter's On-Trac eprocurement software system which it developed with Computasoft. Mike Norris, chief executive of Computacenter, said it had decided to launch Biomni because of the scarcity of viable alternatives on the market. He said while Computacenter's involvement will help because of On-Trac's proven track record with Computacenter's customers, it will also be a hindrance because users will be concerned it will not be an independent procurement tool. But Norris said Biomni will not lock customers into an arrangement with Computacenter and will "not just allow people to buy PCs". He said Computacenter had provided half of the seed capital for the company as well as some staff. The reseller has also set aside a "couple of million" for marketing funds for Biomni for next year. But Norris said Computacenter will not be affected if Biomni fails to take off as the reseller is a separate organisation. Norris said Computacenter had already replaced the staff it had lost to Biomni, including Angus Gregory, electronic business manager, who has been appointed Biomni's managing director.
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