Comergent Updates Demand Chain Suite

Adds invoicing, auction apps; beefs up pricing, catalog features; releases four verticalized solutions

Redwood City, CA — March 6, 2003 — Demand chain software company Comergent Technologies this week took the wraps off the latest release of its flagship sell-side solution suite, adding new applications and improvements intended to further streamline enterprises' demand chain processes, and also releasing four verticalized industry solutions for the automotive, franchise, high-tech/micro-electronics and industrial sectors.

Comergent said its demand chain management applications help enterprises automate customer-facing processes, thereby reducing the costs of selling and servicing customers or partners while simultaneously making it easier for those customers and partners to do business with them.

Release 6.3 of the provider's E-Business System includes new applications for invoices and auctions, as well as new enhancements for pricing, catalog and e-commerce.

The new Invoices application provides a personalized workspace allowing customers round-the-clock access to manage their invoices, credit memos and payments. Customer service or call center representatives have real-time access to view and update invoice status, while aggregate data can be pulled from any of a number of enterprise resource planning (ERP), backend or even remote systems for billing, receivables and reconciliation.

The new Auctions application, the technology for which Comergent acquired when it purchased Enduse in January (see related story), is intended to provide a means of liquidating excess inventory and overruns. Auction formats include standard, English, Dutch and "Incentiv Auctions" — a proprietary auction format that enables sellers to set volume discounts as a way of giving incentives to buyers who are willing to buy in bulk in order to help reduce an enterprise's overall handling costs.

Expanded pricing capabilities offer more options for enterprise pricing strategies and are designed to ease administration tasks. The new options include flexible and automatic promotional pricing based on item quantity, item combination or order total. Coupon management capabilities include activation and exclusivity of coupon codes. A user-friendly pricing maintenance interface was designed to facilitate use by non-technical administrators.

New product catalog search enhancements are intended to offer more powerful and effective searches. The improvements include faster search options — such as Boolean, phrase search and wild card search — and more "advanced search" options include defined detailed search over product content, search limits set to certain product categories and filters for price range. Search results capabilities now include "sort by," results comparisons and score calculation.

The new e-commerce functionality extends Comergent's order management capabilities for dealer e-commerce systems and storefronts, according to the provider.

Comergent, which targets global manufacturers and distributors in the high-tech/electronics, automotive/aerospace, industrial and consumer sectors, said it will ship release 6.3 of E-Business System on March 10.

Meanwhile, the provider also unveiled verticalized industry solutions targeting the automotive, franchise, high-tech/micro-electronics and industrial sectors.

Comergent said the industry-specific versions of release 6.3 are tailored to the unique requirements, processes and terminology used in those industries. The provider asserted that by incorporating industry best practices and more tailored out-of-the-box functionality, the industry solutions minimize the need for additional customization, thereby providing a lower total cost of ownership.

"Delivering industry-specific solutions was the next logical step for us," said Jean Kovacs, president and CEO at Comergent. "Now, enterprises will be able to automate and optimize their demand chain processes even more easily and quickly than before."

Comergent for Automotive includes catalog support for the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA) product standard, Product Information Exchange Standard (PIES) and vehicle identification numbers (VINs). The solution also provides a multi-tier parts catalog with exploded auto parts diagrams, co-branded dealer/distributor storefronts that leverage the manufacturer's catalog and product content, and the ability to publish catalog to the Web, CD-ROM or paper catalog.

Other features in the automotive solution include B2B stock and special order processes, business-to-consumer parts and accessory stores, order brokering across organizations and ERP systems, and system-to-system XML auto-replenishment ordering.

Comergent for Franchise provides private and personalized franchise portals, a supplier selector, multi-supplier catalogs, franchise-based reporting and entitlements, order brokering across multiple "approved-vendor" systems, franchisee royalty reporting and universal invoice presentment.

The Comergent for High-tech/Microelectronics solution offers support for samples orders, system-to-system replenishment ordering via XML or RosettaNet standards, order brokering, real-time pricing and availability checks across distributors, distributor special pricing authorization, co-branded distributor/reseller storefronts to leverage manufacturer product content and catalogs, and real-time measurement and analysis of distributor inventory

And Comergent for Industrial provides electronic catalog that supports online, offline and CD-ROM users; configuration support for parametric searching, kitting, bundling, supercession and serial number controls; co-branded dealer storefronts to leverage manufacturer product content and catalog; "Incentiv Auctions" and cross-sell/up-sell functionality for revenue optimization; multi-mode order acquisition (via XML, EDI, Web); and system-to-system replenishment ordering.

This solution also offers order brokering across various backend systems, dealer special pricing authorization, install base management, exploded parts diagrams, real-time location of parts across multiple locations/dealers, incident reporting and management, and failure analysis.

In the final piece of Comergent news this week, the provider announced an expanded partnership with BEA Systems, making Comergent BEA's selected solution provider in the demand chain space.

"We've always been a technology partner with BEA," noted Tom Mescall, Comergent's senior vice president of marketing and business development. "We supported their stack in terms of their app server and portal and integration. More recently we've formalized a sales and marketing relationship with them to go into the market to sell a joint solution."