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OpenSales Opens Door To Free E-Commerce

By Matthew Beale
Sep 29, 1999 12:00 AM PT

Online business developer idealab! has launched OpenSales, Inc., a new open-source software venture that will offer free e-commerce service, software and support.

OpenSales Opens Door To Free E-Commerce

The software, known as OpenMerchant, taps into the power and flexibility of the increasingly popular Linux operating system (OS) -- along with Perl and Apache -- to bring distributed and scalable e-commerce solutions to individuals and businesses. OpenMerchant, which idealab! refers to as "a free retailing catalyst," can be deployed on the Linux, Solaris, UNIX and Windows NT platforms.

"By offering OpenMerchant free of charge, we're opening the door to e-commerce for everyone," commented OpenSales CTO Rob Ferber. "And, with our full support of Linux and open-source developments, we look forward to enhancing our solutions while contributing to a technological movement that will liberate users from the limitations of restrictive systems and solutions."

Out of the Box and Into E-Commerce

Free "out of the box" OpenMerchant features include management modules for content, customer service, inventory, and merchandise along with a search terms manager. "The days of creating closed and proprietary systems are over,'' commented Michelle Kraus, president and CEO of OpenSales.

"By using best of breed solutions like Linux, Perl and Apache, OpenSales has created an easily accessible and world-class standard for online retailing," added Kraus. Additionally, the company will offer system clustering, database management and Jump-To, a tracking tool designed to record customer product interest and purchasing patterns.

Early adopters of the OpenMerchant e-commerce solution include KidsOnLine, MusicNow,, and WeddingChannel. "In keeping with its commitment to this technological revolution," said a company statement, "OpenSales plans to release its OpenMerchant source code in October of this year through a special developer portal called"

PNC Bank Will Offer iCat E-Commerce Services

In other e-commerce news, PNC Bank announced this week that it has entered into an agreement with iCat to offer what it calls "low-cost e-commerce services" to small businesses. PNC will become the first bank to join the iCat Commerce Online Service, bringing business customers online storefront-creating capabilities through the newly-formed iSites@PNC Bank site. The site will officially launch operations in October.

iCat, an Intel company, provides the services and support needed for small to mid-sized businesses to enter the world of e-commerce. The company packages its store-building service in order to resell it to telecommunications and financial firms, or Internet Service Providers (ISPs). These companies, in turn, "commerce enable" the Web sites of their customers.

"With the new iCat service, PNC helps address many of the issues that have kept small business from developing Web sites, including high entry costs, limited technical knowledge and time constraints," commented Jim Graham, executive vice president of business banking for PNC. "For many small businesses, (this) will provide the opportunity to uniquely position their products and enable them to rapidly change in order to beat the competition as well as to expand their markets throughout the country and around the world."


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