iMall Launches

E-commerce service providers First Data Merchant Services and iMALL (Nasdaq: IMAL) have teamed up to create a “one-stop enablement portal for e-commerce” called The new site provides products and services that merchants can use to develop their own e-commerce sites.

Industry Perspective

The new site, though billed as a first-of-its-kind, is actually representative of a trend toward portal sites and e-commerce software developers collaborating to offer turnkey store-building solutions.

In a similar move last week, Internet software developer Open Market (Nasdaq: OMKT) and Lycos (Nasdaq: LCOS) announced an alliance aimed at attracting new merchants to the Lycos hub. These moves are seen as strategic steps toward competing against Yahoo! Stores, which has, so far, been the most successful at attracting online merchants.

What’s Included offers site creation and hosting services, e-commerce services, a merchant credit card account, a payment gateway, and capabilities to direct traffic and transactions to individual merchant stores.

It can also be rebranded by Internet service providers who want to offer e-commerce enabling services to their own merchant clients. John Duncan, FDMS executive vice president explained that the new site “enables our clients’ merchants to easily begin selling online in one day, as opposed to several weeks.”

Merchants using this integrated solution will have their Web stores automatically listed in and their individual products listed on the portal.

Additional Features is an automated Internet approval and activation system that enables merchants to securely establish accounts, receive online credit decisions, and begin accepting credit card payments over the Internet, reportedly within one day. Eventually, FDMS indicates that the merchant approval process will be able to be completed in a matter of minutes.

The payments gateway embedded in the solution allows merchants to accept and verify payment transactions in real time. It also eliminates the need for merchants to work with multiple service providers to become fully commerce-enabled.

StoreWizard is a transactional Web storefront for merchants seeking to accept online, real-time orders using shopping carts and online product catalogs. It includes a variety of store building tools for businesses seeking an “off-the-shelf” storefront solution, as well as those needing online transaction processing.

AddonWizard is intended to add full transaction capabilities to a Web site in minutes. This product is designed for businesses that already have online storefronts, and now need real-time e-commerce services so they can accept transactions online.

Both StoreWizard and AddonWizard incorporate typical e-commerce services, such as product catalogs, shopping carts, sales tax calculation, product level searching, indexing capabilities, custom payment options, and backroom capabilities with customer tracking.

First Data Merchant Services is a subsidiary of First Data Corporation (NYSE: FDC), and represents the first initiative resulting from a recent strategic e-commerce agreement between FDMS and iMALL.

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