IBM and Mercantec Introduce Usage-Based Pricing for eStorefronts

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ISPCON, San Jose, CA - 10 Nov 2000: IBM and Mercantec today announced usage-based pricing for service providers that host e-commerce sites for their customers, leveraging IBM's industry-leading UNIX server platform and e-business support services with Mercantec's SoftCart storefront software. First to market with a complete "pay as you go" e-commerce solution, the IBM and Mercantec package allows Service Providers of all sizes to immediately implement "plug and play" e-commerce solutions for end customers.

Service providers will receive as many servers as they need and, after an initiation fee, will be billed only for the number of commerce storefronts that their customers use, effectively removing upfront cost and risk for service providers.

"The market has been calling for a usage-based pricing option, not only for individual applications, but for the complete range of e-business enablement," noted Per Larsen, vice president of marketing, IBM WebServers. "Not only will Service Providers get top of the line performance, but they will also benefit from a flexible, pay-as-you-go pricing option that allows them to offer competitive cost structures. Simply put, the end result is higher customer satisfaction and increased profits for the service provider."

Customers who enroll in IBM's usage-based pricing program, implemented by IBM Global Financing, establish a price-protected usage fee, which enables service providers to build an e-commerce offering which is immediately profitable and well defined. Upon enrollment, customers pay a $10,000 initiation fee that covers technical, educational and marketing services, as well as a bonus of $5,000 worth of pre-paid storefront usage fees. The end result of the program is a "fast track" to sustainable revenues for new ISPs by virtue of IBM's proven technology and Mercantec's easy-to-implement storefront software.

"Mercantec is excited to be a part of the industry's first of its kind usage-based pricing program," noted Andy Parker, chief executive officer for Mercantec. "By pre-loading IBM Unix servers with our storefront applications, IBM and Mercantec are teaming to offer service providers an immediate commerce solution for their end customers. We look forward to continuing our work with IBM to better serve ISPs around the world."

"The goal of this program is to provide an immediately deployable business solution," said Bill Doscas, vice president of marketing & sales, IBM Global Financing. "We want to be seen as the company that recognizes the changes in the marketplace and responds with programs, alliances and pricing options that allow companies to quickly capitalize on market opportunities. Our usage-based pricing approach is exactly what Service Providers have been asking for by aligning IBM support to the growth of their businesses."

Additional benefits of the IBM/Mercantec usage-based pricing platform include:

The offer establishes a single point of contact for service providers for all support and services issues via a toll-free hotline.

As part of the original initiation fee, customers also receive installation services, as well as marketing and training services designed to give Service Providers an effective go-to-market strategy. These services include:

- Storefront Validation: installation; credit card handling; storefront provisioning
- Marketing Support: e-commerce launch manual; Telemarketing Campaign Kit; Mercantec Community Guide: a step-by-step kit for successfully launching and promoting e-commerce to the merchant community
-Training: service provider support; monthly sales and marketing rollout; monthly "webinar" access for merchants

The initial shipment includes a single IBM B50 rack mounted server, along with a Palm Pilot and IBM's SNAPP software to be used for hardware installation and management. Additional servers will be provided as needed by the service provider.

SNAPP (System Networking, Analysis, and Performance Pilot) is an innovative Web-based application that allows customers to configure and manage an RS/6000 B50 server with hand-held computers based on the Palm Computing® platform. The application simplifies the server installation process and requires only minimal knowledge of system hardware and AIX, IBM's UNIX operating system.

Each server comes pre-loaded with the full compliment of Mercantec software, so that service providers can provide a range of offerings to their clients. The pre-loaded Mercantec applications include:

- Mercantec SoftCart UltraLite: for merchants selling up to 10 products/items
- Mercantec SoftCart Lite: for merchants with up to 100 products
- Mercantec SoftCart Pro: for merchants with thousands of products
- Add-ons to these application offerings include: Qblink QBLink for Intuit QuickBooks; Vendor DropShip; Merchant Payment Center; Cybercash Payment Center; Merchant Payment Center
- Mercantec SoftCart Suite: reduced cost bundle of SoftCart Pro with add-ons