Great Plains Unveils New E-Commerce Solution

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Great Plains Unveils New E-Commerce Solution
S. McVey - December 6, 2000

Event Summary

Mid-market ERP vendor turned e-business solutions provider Great Plains has announced eSell, a new e-commerce solution designed for businesses needing a fast, easy and economical way to bring their businesses to the Internet. eSell will enable both business-to-business and business-to-consumer sales via the Internet and offers pre-configured "hooks" to other parts of Great Plains' e-business solutions.

Great Plains' partner Impressa, Inc. provides the underlying technology for eSell through its BizGear solution for building web sites. eSell consists of the following components:

  • eSell Site Builder: an expert system that enables development and testing of e-commerce storefronts.

  • eSell Site Manager: the day-to-day management component of eSell having the following subcomponents:

  • eSell Storefront: allows users to manage products, customers, inventory, and orders, promotions, e-mail campaigns, and payment processing.

  • eSell Lead System: manages e-mail campaigns, builds a comprehensive customer database and tracks customer responses for CRM purposes.

  • eSell Calendar: enables customer feedback and date-based information such as seminars and corporate events to be published and maintained.

Great Plains will make eSell available, in two hosted forms, sometime in early December. eSell for Dynamics will carry an upfront charge of $5,000 and will allow only limited uploading and downloading of information between back office and storefront applications. eSell for eEnterprise begins at $7,500 and allows real-time XML-based messaging for companies that require faster response. Subscription fees are expected to start at $200 per month.

Market Impact

ERP vendors as a whole have made good progress in finding storefront add-ons to make their back office applications relevant in an e-business world. Great Plains in particular is among those working hard at this effort, as evidenced by its growing e-commerce solution set that includes eOrder, a web-based sales entry solution, and eView, a browser accessed financial and business information portal. eSell is the most recent addition to this suite and strengthens Great Plains' position against fierce competition from other enterprise application vendors focused on the mid market, such as Navision, Epicor, and Sage Software.

A key benefit of eSell is the packaged integration to Great Plains' other applications. As long as companies do not require that special data be passed from storefront to back office processes, the integrated solution can be implemented quickly with minimal involvement of user personnel. Great Plains has anticipated the need for implementation services by forging alliances with integration firms, most recently Tompkins Associates, LLC, and is working to educate these firms on its new e-commerce offerings. Great Plains expects third-party web development firms to handle the bulk of the implementation activities surrounding eSell.

User Recommendations

eSell provides a strong argument in favor of Great Plains for potential users who currently operate on a Microsoft platform and fall near the low end of the mid-market ($2M-$200M in revenue). Existing Great Plains users may find that eSell provides a rapid solution for connecting back-office functions to B2C or B2B customer-facing applications. There is one caveat: companies requiring more than a few customizations will probably find eSell insufficient as packaged. Because extensive customizations result in a higher acquisition cost, these companies may find Great Plains' existing eCommerce module to be a more flexible and cost effective alternative to eSell.

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