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Build your own Asian b2b e-market

Datacraft Asia's Internet commerce consulting arm, iSquare Asia, introduced an applications package that can be used to build a fully functioning vertical business-to-business (B2B) electronic market in as little as 45 days.

Datacraft Asia's Internet commerce consulting arm, iSquare Asia, introduced in Hong Kong on Thursday a comprehensive applications package that can be used to build a fully functioning vertical business-to-business (B2B) electronic market in as little as 45 days.

HONG KONG - (SCMP.com) - The package, called iSMP for iSquare Marketplace, was designed specifically to meet the requirements of transaction-based e-markets and online commodity exchanges in the region, according to iSquare Asia.

"Since Asian manufacturers already lead the market in many industries, the potential of Asian e-marketplaces to enhance supply chains on a global scale cannot be underestimated," said Roger Fan, managing director of iSquare Asia.

"There are tremendous opportunities out there for those who can act quickly, so time-to-market is very important. iSMP was designed to enable e-market makers to quickly seize these opportunities by providing a complete, quick-to-implement e-market operations platform that has been tailored to suit Asian business cultures and support Asian languages."

According to research firm Gartner, e-market makers are projected to account for US$581 billion in non-financial electronic sales transactions in 2004, representing 29 per cent of the overall value of the B2B e-commerce market in the Asia-Pacific region outside Japan.

Mr Fan said iSquare Asia was pricing its iSMP package to suit Asia. "That means we are not asking for a stake in the e-market makers' business, and we won't charge commission on the transaction turnover, unlike some notable e-market solution vendors," he said.

According to iSquare Asia, iSMP is based on industry standards and incorporates "best-of-breed" technologies from such software vendors as Oracle, Vignette, Siebel Systems, Bolero and ValiCert to assure the reliability and performance of the e-market platform.

The iSMP package is modular in design, which makes it fully expandable and scalable to allow e-market makers to buy only what they need.

"We build vertical e-marketplaces for e-market makers on a fixed-time, fixed-fee basis," Mr Fan said.

"With iSMP, the e-market makers pay the upfront licence fee and implementation charges, after which the revenue stream is all their own."

He also claimed that iSquare Asia built iSMP as a series of integrated components, each of which is responsible for a specific set of business functions and collectively provides a complete set of streamlined and versatile e-commerce services.

These modules include trading directory, membership management, role assignment, task management, product catalogue, auction, procurement, contract negotiation and maintenance, enterprise application integration enabler, company workflow, content management, and management reports.

Vincent Lum, managing director of Datacraft iCommerce, a division of Singapore-listed systems integrator Datacraft Asia, said the company was also providing local support and customisation services throughout Asia.

"While the technology is an important consideration factor, support and integration services are the key success factors for operators of any e-marketplace, whether it is private or public," he said.

Support for iSMP users will come from iSquare Asia's six offices in Greater China and parent firm Datacraft's network of more than 60 offices in 13 Asian-Pacific countries.

Mr Lum pointed out that Datacraft was confident that iSMP "will become the e-marketplace leader throughout the region within a very short period of time".

To date, iSMP had already been deployed to support live operations in two Asian e-marketplaces, with another five vertical e-market projects undergoing implementation, Mr Fan said.

One of these deployments is for PolymerPacific.com, which iSquare Asia claims is the region's first B2B vertical e-marketplace for the US$480 billion polymer industry.

"The global polymer trade is ideal for deploying a B2B e-commerce solution as it is currently a fragmented market with no centralised exchange to serve the market," Mr Fan said.

"Traditionally, trades in the industry depend on people-oriented dealing processes which are inefficient, and there is a lack of readily available international information on local market needs, customer behaviours and practices, as well as country-specific pricing. This situation actually hinders US and European producers in their efforts to reach the tremendously huge buying potential in Asia."

The PolymerPacific B2B trading platform has supposedly overcome those problems since its launch in December of last year.

Independent buyers and sellers have already begun trading plastics internationally via the PolymerPacific e-marketplace, which was launched to offer global reach with an Asian focus.

The iSMP-based vertical e-market offers buyers and sellers the vehicle to negotiate and agree on pricing, quantity, delivery, quality and other terms online in local languages.

"Current services include industry-specific content, information services and financial services," said Angela Wong, chief executive of PolymerPacific.

"We have also planned to offer other value-added services, such as logistics and product quality testing by 2001, which will increase the revenue we generate from commissions on online trades."

PolymerPacific is a joint venture between leading worldwide polymer distributor and trader Horneman Chemplas Far East and Hong Kong-based China-i-Corp (CIC).

Mr Fan said that the PolymerPacific e-market infrastructure was its latest collaboration with CIC, following the development of the mainland's first vertical e-market for the home appliance industry earlier this year.

That e-market was called e-DAS, for electronic domestic appliance service. It provides a platform for manufacturers and suppliers to electronically perform sourcing and procurement for components within China as part of an integrated range of supply chain management services.