Bidding Fever

Once nonchalant Internet integrators are starting to pay more attention to online-auction vendors. Among the interested parties is Xcelerate.

Once nonchalant Internet integrators are starting to pay more attention to online-auction vendors.

Among the interested parties is Xcelerate. Last week, the integrator debuted a practice devoted to developing online auctions and exchanges. It plans to work with auction vendor Moai and e-commerce bigwig BroadVision.

"We haven't seen any other integrators doing this. That's one of the key reasons we started," says Todd Albert, director of strategic alliances at Xcelerate.

Just one week earlier, Ernst & Young inked a similar channel deal with Moai. Integrators are enticed by the possibility of plugging dynamic-pricing features into numerous areas of an e-business equation. Whether it's peddling surplus inventory or requesting bids for an office-supplies order, the auction model is seen as a viable option for large corporations.

Fueling much of the channel's recent push into the auction space has been new technology releases. For example, Moai recently unveiled a three-tiered solution focusing on enterprise corporations, dot-com start-ups and app-hosting outfits.

Not Yet Lined With Gold

While the upgraded product--LiveExchange dynamic commerce--hasn't made it into the hands of many channel partners yet, it promises open APIs and multiple auction-pricing schemes, says Moai VP of marketing Michelle Messina.

Eyeing the same market, OpenSite is trumpeting its new Dynamic Pricing Toolkit, which also promises open APIs for better integration into existing e-business systems. OpenSite is just now starting to get the product out to resellers.

But the business-to-business auction market is not yet lined with gold. Many integrators say customers have mistaken assumptions about the cost of these solutions. In addition, these high-cost, technically complex jobs require hard-to-find pros, often with ERP backgrounds and other legacy-systems expertise.

"B-to-b is complex. Integrators need to understand how their customer's business works, how to integrate with ERP and other legacy systems," says Rafael Molano, president of integrator MarketDev.com. In addition, he says, integrators have to deal with long sales cycles, often approaching six months.

Regardless, online auctions have graduated well beyond Beanie Babies.

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