The American Supply Association's Center for Advancing Technology held another in its series of Electronic Commerce Blue Ribbon Summits in conjunction with ASA's annual convention and NEX 2000 in Chicago. The theme of the summit was "Selling to your Customers through E-Commerce Transactions."
The summit covered topics such as Web site marketing, site design, ASA ANSINET and electronic data interchange, the economics of e-commerce and extensible markup language (XML).
Another topic explored was e-commerce exchanges. Kevin Hoyle of Shannon Systems said that exchanges, or e-brokers, can reduce the costs associated with EDI data mapping to a company's trading partners that use different EDI formats. A company sends its transaction information to the exchange broker, which then translates the data into acceptable formats for the trading partners.
"With a broker, you can do EDI e-commerce with anyone," he said.
AMR Research, which analyzes e-business strategies and technologies, states that, while the number of e-exchanges has exploded over the last couple of years, only two or three exchanges will survive in any vertical industry. For the survival of any exchange, according to AMR, an exchange must:
1. Understand the industry's rules;
2. Be unbiased between buyer and seller; and
3. Possess the technical expertise to adapt to changing marketplaces.
In addition, Hoyle suggested that companies ask what they will gain when using a broker and whether employees will be required to do more work.
He also suggested that companies considering brokers should ask about vendor-managed inventory capability, divesting surplus inventory and inventory sharing, where a computer system could automatically research another firm's inventory levels.