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IBM and CommercialWare Expand Customer Choice in the Retail Industry

Joint Retail Solution Enables J.C. Whitney to Transform Its Inventory Management System and Boost Customer Service

SOMERS, NY - 20 Dec 2004: IBM and CommericalWare today announced that J.C. Whitney, one of the largest direct marketers of automotive accessories and parts, has chosen their joint open standards-based retail solution to transform its inventory management system and improve customer service. The new IT system has allowed the company to automate its business processes and provide the highest level of customer service on demand.

Built on IBM's open standards technology, the solution facilitates easy connectivity and integrates more than 40 disparate applications scattered across the enterprise, allowing data to move seamlessly throughout the enterprise. The integrated CommercialWare and IBM solution replaced J.C. Whitney's 35-year-old homegrown system that could not effectively connect customer orders with inventory database, which led to declining customer service. J.C. Whitney went live with the joint solution with no disruption to its ongoing business operations. As a result of the new IT infrastructure, the retailer is now benefiting from a customized industry-specific solution that enables them to process complex business inventory broken down by make, model and year with a wide variety of stock and specialty parts, in real time.

J.C. Whitney adopted CommercialWare's CWDirect(TM) application, combined with IBM's middleware and hardware including WebSphere Commerce, DB2* Universal Database and IBM eServer* iSeries*. As one of the largest direct marketers of automotive parts, millions of customers shop at J.C. Whitney through catalogs and its personal Web site, which is supported by a 360,000-square-foot operations and Inventory Center in Illinois.

The new cross-channel solution serves as a central repository for critical operational data and allows end-to-end interaction of diverse units within the organization. For example, the cross-channel commerce infrastructure facilitates real-time interconnection of order and sales management systems. It handles processes such as: order taking to order shipping, and connecting online customer transactions with the warehouse floor systems to procure inventory status. The retail solution accesses the product database in the warehouse and enables visibility to stock data for online merchandising. This seamless integration is helping J.C. Whitney streamline processes, improve employee productivity and significantly enhance customer service.

"We needed a solution that would help us improve customer service through comprehensive inventory control," said Marty Wehrle, CIO, J.C. Whitney. "It is critical that we have a seamless integration and our online, call center and catalogue customers are able to quickly search our inventory to purchase and accept delivery of the accessories and parts they require. CWDirect built IBM's non-proprietary IT infrastructure enables this, and integrates customer, inventory and product information across our Web site, catalogue and inventory systems with an open architecture. The result is millions of customers, no matter which sales methods they prefer, have easy access to everything automotive."

CommercialWare, a leading provider of cross-channel commerce infrastructure software for retail enterprises, is an ISV Advantage for SMB partner and was one of the first ISV Advantage partners in IBM's PartnerWorld Industry Networks for Retail program. This is one of IBM's primary initiatives designed to provide business partners with go-to-market sales support and technical resources specifically tailored to meet customer needs industry by industry. The initiative offers business partners with technology and marketing support that enables them to more quickly build, deploy and go to market with solutions built on an open architecture, providing customers the flexibility to choose hardware and software based on their specific business needs.

CommercialWare worked closely with IBM to develop and market CWDirect, a scalable software solution built on an open architecture that enables cross-channel retailers and direct marketers to interact, transact with and support customers at all points-of-touch. CommercialWare's participation in ISV Advantage for SMB and PartnerWorld Retail Industry Networks initiatives has delivered significant value to the Company's success.

"Working with IBM was very helpful in bringing J.C. Whitney on board," said Denise Gibbons, VP Services, CommercialWare. "Access to IBM's technical resources enabled us to develop an open, scalable and secure multi-channel order management solution that allowed J.C. Whitney to optimize transactions from all customer touch points including catalogue, call center and Web site, ultimately providing superior customer service and support throughout the sales process. Our customers recognize the value we bring to them through our relationship with IBM, and working closely with IBM's marketing and sales teams has certainly opened the door for new markets and opportunities for us. IBM is committed to helping us become successful in the marketplace."

As part of the PartnerWorld Industry Networks initiative, ISVs work with IBM to port their applications to IBM's open infrastructure, with a special focus on developing industry-specific solutions. The PartnerWorld Industry Networks also provide rich marketing and sales tools to support ISVs generating and closing industry opportunities. With an integrated IBM and CommercialWare retail solution in place, sales representatives, suppliers, managers and customers alike have real-time access to inventory and other sales transaction information. This real-time access ensures efficiency and service excellence while allowing managers access to accurate and comprehensive information.

Contact(s) information

Kaveri Camire
IBM Media Relations
(914) 766-1324
kcamire@us.ibm.com

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Information Management, Lotus, Tivoli, Rational, WebSphere, Open standards, open source

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