Microsoft To Launch B2B Trading On bCentral

Microsoft is making the move from providing a Web site marketing and information resource on its bCentral small business site to allowing direct trading among its members.

In a deal with retail back-end software provider Radiant Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: RADS), Microsoft Corp. said the two firms will develop and market a Web-based service on bCentral for small and midsize e-tailers to procure goods from distributors and each other.

The B2B e-commerce service will enable retailers and their supply chain partners “to save hundreds of millions of dollars annually by using these types of solutions to streamline business processes and share information,” Microsoft said.

Aimed at Two Million Small and Midsize Retailers

Under its plan with Microsoft, Radiant said that its RetailEnterprise division will create vertical online communities for various groups of retailers and their trading partners, specifically targeting the more than two million small and midsize retailers around the world.

The company said that it also may create specific trading portals for its larger clients based on the trading technology developed for the bCentral service.

Atlanta, Georgia-based Radiant Systems offers its services to numerous retail companies, claiming that its software is used to process more than two billion transactions per year. Its RetailEnterprise division, founded last year, has already established online vertical service provider marketplaces, such as for food service retailers and suppliers and for convenience store operators and their suppliers.

An Open Partnership

As part of the deal, Microsoft made an undisclosed equity investment in Radiant Systems, though the two companies described the arrangement as an “open structure that allows for other strategic and equity partners.”

In addition to using bCentral to promote the project, Microsoft also agreed to provide additional support for the project through joint marketing programs, funding for product development, consulting services, developer support and Internet services from the Microsoft Network.

Microsoft launched bCentral late last year to provide development services and information to small and midsize retailers that are looking to enter or expand within the e-commerce world.

The company recently added auction services to the site through an agreement with FairMarket, Inc., and it has lined up postage pioneer as its exclusive electronic postage supplier.

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