American Express Touts Momentum of SME Solution Business

Partnership with SAP, IBM draws 50-plus customers with vertical ERP offerings

Partnership with SAP, IBM draws 50-plus customers with vertical ERP offerings

New York — December 7, 2004 — Credit card giant American Express is touting the success of its partnership with SAP America and IBM to provide small and midsize enterprises (SMEs) with affordable industry-specific business management technology solutions.

Tax and Business Services Inc. (TBS), a subsidiary of the card company, operates the American Express Alliance Program in partnership with SAP and IBM, and the company is reporting that, in the year since the program launched, more than 50 customers have deployed the solutions and more than 20 business partners have joined the Alliance Program to sell, implement and support the solutions and customers in the United States and Canada.

"We have made good on our promise to solve one of the biggest problems facing small and midsize businesses: the lack of fully integrated, industry-specific business solutions, including software, hardware, services and support, from a single trusted nationally branded organization," said Harvey Goss, managing director of American Express TBS. "The growth we've experienced with both customers and our alliance members signals that American Express is successfully filling this void with comprehensive, vertically tailored solutions for small and mid-sized businesses, delivered locally and at an affordable price."

Bruce Richardson, an analyst with technology consultancy AMR Research, noted in a recent research note that American Express has been working on projects in the SME market for some time by partnering with solution providers already targeting this space, such as Best Software, Epicor and Microsoft. In 2001, Richards reports, AmEx opted to align itself with larger enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution providers that were looking to go after smaller customers.

SAP Business One  The American Express Edition for Wholesale Distribution is a component of The American Express Edition Supply Chain Suite, a set of vertical-specific solutions focusing on various phases of the supply chain cycle: manufacturing, distribution, retail and field service. It was developed to improve and streamline business owners' financial management and distribution operational functions, with a roadmap towards radio frequency identification (RFID) and other emerging technologies, according to American Express.

Built with the SAP Business One solution and IBM eServer xSeries platform as its software and hardware foundation, the American Express Edition for Wholesale Distribution includes specific tools and technologies, such as wireless warehouse management, electronic data interchange (EDI), document management, tax compliance and credit card authorization capabilities that are necessary to support the small and midsize distributor, the card company said.

One customer using the solution, YAK PAK, a designer and manufacturer of bags and backpacks, has found that the American Express Edition for Wholesale Distribution addresses the key functional areas involved in managing a wholesale distribution business. With the American Express Edition, the company replaced its outmoded business management software to expand its operations and accommodate a 35 percent compound growth rate, as well as the opening of a new warehouse to support its increasing wholesale, retail and e-commerce sales.

"Our legacy system could not keep up, and every day was costing us money," said Richard Haugen, chief operating officer of YAK PAK. The company decided to implement a business management solution with the help of American Express in four months during the relocation of their warehouse from New York to a new facility in Texas.

YAK PAK reports that they are now able to sell more, ship faster and provide better service to their customers and credits the implementation with a 20 percent increase in earnings. During this critical period of expansion, by using The American Express Edition YAK PAK saw mispacked shipments decrease 10 percent; manpower to pack orders decrease 22 percent; and customer service costs decrease by 60 percent while sales reps' selling time increased by 32 percent.

In addition to supporting its growing customer base through its own local offices, American Express TBS has cultivated a channel network of regional business and technology companies. American Express Alliance Program members demonstrate expertise in a full range of businesses, technologies and vertical industries and provide a single point of contact for customers' information solution needs. Platinum Alliance Program members include American Express TBS, Baer Business Solutions, Vision 33, The RAM Group, RAM Computer Technologies and The Revere Group.

"Participation in the Alliance Program has proven to be a huge boon to our business and an opportunity to collaborate with American Express and its partner network of leaders in the business and technology services industry," said Harvey Baer, CEO of Baer Business Solutions, which is headquartered in Atlanta, GA. "This collaborative environment allows us to leverage other members' areas of knowledge when needed and has proved the deciding factor in our ability to win new accounts and provide a superior service level to customers."

SAP Business One  The American Express Edition for Wholesale Distribution is available today from American Express Tax and Business Services' offices located in major metropolitan areas and through Alliance Members located throughout the United States and Canada.
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