Two of the world's largest retailers, along with software giant Oracle, will launch the first global business-to-business online exchange for the retail industry.The deal follows a business-to-business online procurement network announced last week, which links General Motors, Ford and Daimler Chrysler, and will also be run by Oracle.
US retailer Sears, Roebuck and Company and French retailer Carrefour Supermarche will initially share a majority stake in GlobalNetExchange, and Oracle will hold a minority stake in the new venture, the companies said. They eventually plan to spin it off as an independent company.
GlobalNetExchange, based on Oracle's online business software, will initially focus on Sears' and Carrefour's combined $80bn supply-chain purchases from 50,000 suppliers, partners and distributors. The marketplace will support all types of retail merchandise, including apparel, soft goods, hard goods, food and other consumer products.
Powered by Oracle Exchange, the new marketplace is expected to become operational within 30 days with its own management, employees and capitalisation.
In a joint statement, the companies said they expect GlobalNetExchange will reduce their purchasing expenses and improve efficiencies with their trading partners. Other retailers will be invited to join the founding partners in GlobalNetExchange. Although no other retailers had been contacted yet, Sears and Carrefour said talks would begin within 24 hours.
According to Forrester Research, the B-2-B ecommerce market will reach $1.3 trillion by 2003.
"Sears and Carrefour will share the majority equity interest in the beginning, but we expect over time that other participants will participate as well in the equity," Arthur Martinez, chairman and chief executive of Sears, told analysts and reporters during a conference call.
Separately, Oracle said it had made an undisclosed investment from the Oracle Venture Fund in WebEx. This is the first investment by the Oracle Venture Fund in an interactive web-meeting infrastructure company.
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