The Software Corner

Aug 09, 2006 8:22 PM  By

The Software Corner is a periodic feature of the O+F Advisor and is a round-up of the new and noteworthy from software industry guru Ernie Schell.

Natural Solutions: Enterprise Ready, Adds Six Users

Natural Solutions, vendors of the Natural Order, Natural Web, and Natural Retail solutions for multichannel direct commerce, has achieved a new level of enterprise readiness with the appointment of Richard Carter as vice president of development. Carter, who was with Sigma-Micro Corp. for 26 years, where he worked as a developer and programmer on the GAP, Lands’ End, and East Bay accounts, brings industry expertise in working with large user organizations.

More than 200 users in the U.S., Canada, and Australia currently use Natural Order. With Version 8.0, released earlier this year, the system now offers:
–Internationalization for addressing and currency
–Expanded security definitions
–User-definable order entry setup schemes
–Assortment kits
–Gift recipient lists
–Expanded picking selection criteria
–E-mail schemes
–Additional third-party interfaces

“We are very excited about the release of Natural Order 8.0, which allows us to provide much more flexibility and functionality within our suite of software offerings,” says Tyce McIntosh, vice president of marketing. “We will be implementing version 8.0 for six new users by the end of the year.”

Three points in the above list invite comment. The first is the use of “schemes” in Natural Order. These user-definable template interfaces supporting parameterization of system functionality will become the norm in future development on the system. In order entry, for example, schemes specify the order of field navigation, what fields are called, and rules using each field. You can also designate different sets of fields by user log-on, so that you can have specialized fields for new users and fewer fields for advanced users.

In addition to e-mailing, schemes currently manage royalties and advanced discounting options. The second point is internationalization. Natural Solutions joins a select group of software vendors who can support virtually any currency and contact (phone, address) conventions worldwide.

Finally, with regard to third-party interfaces, Natural Solutions recently announced integration with Independent Solutions, a provider of sales tax software. This is in addition to integration with POSitive Technology’s POS solution (using Microsoft’s Retail Management System), the Satori worldwide address verification solution, and Commerce V3 for Web storefronts.

Natural Solutions will start migrating all users onto the same platform in the near future. Says Tyce, “Our latest version is stable and mature. We have an aggressive R&D schedule to continue to extend its functionality, and we’re looking at partnerships with additional e-ccommerce vendors.”

CommercialWare, MS Gold Certified, Integrating with Datavantage
CommercialWare, a division of Datavantage and wholly owned subsidiary of Micros Systems, and a provider of cross-channel commerce solutions for retailers, has announced that its award-winning software solutions, available on Microsoft Windows Server 2003 and using Microsoft SQL Server, have achieved Gold Certification status through Microsoft’s Gold Certified Partner Program.

Six months after the Datavantage acquisition, the two companies are on course to integrating their solution suites, according to Mark Lightbody, senior business consultant at CommercialWare. Datavantage provides specialty retailers such as Coldwater Creek and J. Jill with POS and analytical applications, with some users having more than 10,000 registers in place. CWI’s users tend to have a total of fewer than 50 cash registers to manage.

When the two companies’ application suites are merged, the final result will rely on components from each. For instance, “Relate” is the Datavantage CRM application, which can house the retail master file and populate it to the POS. For the inventory locator and gift card management, it will use CWI applications.

The two sales teams are beginning to coordinate and work together, and to market together as well. Europe, Asia, and South America are already covered by Micros, and eventually both Datavantage and CWI will be serving specialty retailers on a truly global basis, too.

In transaction processing, CommercialWare is now fully PCI-Compliant, having become PABP (Payment Application Best Practices)-certified. The PABP is currently a voluntary VISA program, which will be mandatory in the near future.

CommercialWare also announced that Restoration Hardware, Payless, The Vermont Country Store, and the Metropolitan Museum Of Art will all be going live later this year or early next year.

New Features for OrderMotion
OrderMotion, a leading hosted, browser-based direct commerce application, has announced version 8.2.6, which boasts more than 30 enhancements and new features, including:
–Credit card payments with a future start date
–Payment plan enhancements
–Exchanges and replacements
–Credit card authorization floor limits
–Item enhancements to the standing order module
–Enhanced refund check module
–More flexible list selection
–Fulfillment file enhancements
–Prepaid orders using Yahoo gift certificates

Jagged Peak supporting ReacTV
When ReacTV launched Aug. 1, it was broadcast on cable carriers across the country, but is also available free to Internet users at www.77.tv, running on the Edge system from Clearwater, FL-based Jagged Peak.
Edge, the Enterprise Dynamic Global Engine, is a Web-based software application that enables companies to capture, control, and coordinate distributed orders, inventory, and fulfillment across multiple customers, suppliers, employees and partners in real time.

“Our engagement with ReacTV is to provide the technology framework and overall business services,” said Paul Demirdjian, CEO of Jagged Peak. “Together we will integrate a platform that will change the way marketers and consumers view advertising consumption. We look forward to assisting them in this new venture.”

ReacTV, developed by St. Petersburg-based real estate developer Frank Maggio, is expected to broadcast prize-driven content to an estimated 50 million consumers who will compete from their homes for prizes based on advertising, while data collection techniques will provide advertisers with exact viewing numbers.

Ernie Schell is director of Ventnor, NJ-based consultancy Marketing Systems Analysis and manager of the Guide to Direct Commerce Systems and Services. For more, visit, www.schell.com/msa