Staples and Panasonic Power Online Sales with IBM Software

New Version of WebSphere Commerce Helps Improve Buying Experience and Reduce Costs

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SOMERS, N.Y. - 27 Mar 2002: IBM today announced that Staples and Panasonic are among the first businesses to use the new IBM e-commerce software to enrich the online buying experience, streamline business processes and help reduce operating costs.

The new version of WebSphere Commerce helps businesses integrate inventory and order management, out-of-the-box, as well as increase online performance for both business-to-consumer and business-to-business sites.

Staples will use WebSphere Commerce as the new platform for, its B2B e-commerce solution, which is expected to account for 70 percent of the Staples Contract Division's total sales to corporate customers this year. currently serves nearly 10,000 medium- and large-sized organizations and more than 2.6 million customers who are connected either directly or through an eProcurement system. StaplesLink enables purchasing managers to efficiently manage their office supply programs by decentralizing purchasing while centralizing and controlling costs. The site provides real-time inventory availability on more than 80,000 products, company-specific contract pricing and line-item shipping status.

Panasonic, one of the world's leading suppliers of consumer, business and industrial electronics, will use the software for its B2B and B2C sites to strengthen relationships with suppliers and customers as they expand their e-business offerings. At Panasonic, B2B e-commerce has become a strong complement to its traditional dealer programs. Panasonic's B2B site is widely used by the company's dealer base and the online sales volume have achieved double-digit growth in the past year. This trend is expected to grow exponentially over the next year as they integrate more business units onto the WebSphere platform.

"Our corporate customers are increasingly taking advantage of's process and cost efficiencies for office supply purchasing,'' said Lisa Hamblet, vice president, B2B e-commerce for Staples Contract Division. This past year alone, 86 percent of the new customers we acquired use StaplesLink for doing business with us. The new WebSphere Commerce software will enable us to deliver top performance, enhance our real-time inventory and pricing capabilities, and satisfy the future performance and feature needs of our customers."

"Panasonic is committed to enhancing sales and customer service through e-commerce,'' said Eric Keil, IT director of e-business, Panasonic Management Information Technology Company. "Panasonic requires scalable, high-performance systems that can integrate with our multiple back-end applications. The WebSphere Commerce platform enables us to streamline business processes and increase e-sales, while generating a quick return on investment. The result is end-to-end solutions that allow our customers to search through our product catalog and conduct business with us anytime, anyplace.''

e-commerce is a growing, vital part of the businesses world. IDC estimates that more than $1 trillion (US) worth of e-commerce transactions will be made in 2002 - 40 percent more than the $600 billion in 2001. B2B commerce is estimated to account for 83 percent of online sales in 2002 and 88 percent in 2006.

To successfully capture online B2C and B2B sales, it's critical that merchandise that's shown to be available online is actually in stock and ready to ship. The new WebSphere Commerce, integrates e-commerce with inventory and order management systems to ensure that product inventory is adequately tracked and inventory is in line with customer demand.

New WebSphere Commerce version 5.4 Enhancements for B2C and B2B environments:

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