Ultimate Connection (www.ultconnect.com), an independent South African
software vendor dedicated to the development of retail software and related
technologies, has decided to enter the US market more aggressively. The
company distributes the ActiveRetail suite of products through a global
channel of retail certified service and implementation partners. Ultimate
Connection won the Microsoft Retail Application Development '99 Award
for the most innovative retail solution.
a Solomon Partner Conference in August, ActiveRetail 4 Solomon, an international
award-winning software suite developed by Ultimate Connection in collaboration
with Microsoft and Solomon - already embraced by some leading Fortune
500 retail companies in Europe and Africa - was demonstrated. Sold and
supported through a community of Value Added Resellers in Europe and Africa,
this possibly attractive retail business solution will be made available
to Solomon Channel Partners to resell in the United States.
the official launch of a full-scale Ultimate Connection's business development
initiative in the United States, Solomon Business Partners have been offered
a unique opportunity to join the Ultimate Connection reseller channel.
The company has also cited its plans to open its US subsidiary in the
The announced moves put the company in a position to take advantage of
the growing small to mid-size company retail market segment, a demographic
it has been very successful with in other regions of the world. Ultimate
Connection's geographic diversification into the world's largest market
increases the noise in a North American retail market segment with a dearth
of robust and comprehensive product offerings. We believe that the company
is prepared to overcome certain barriers to entry and its low local brand
Ultimate Connection gains a number of opportunities and good references
worldwide. The partnership with Solomon Software provides access to a
large partner and customer base. Moreover, it offers ActiveRetail, a sleek
and comprehensive Internet-enabled enterprise resource management (ERM)
suite of products based on the Microsoft DNA architecture, aimed at growing
retail chains that want to be more profitable and productive. The company
targets the mid-market enterprises that have a pressing need to leverage
the Internet as a new sales channel. Solomon, on the other hand, will
benefit from offering a product with a sharp vertical focus for the retail
ActiveRetail can be implemented in a stand-alone mode, as it exhibits
its own back-end system and business intelligence capabilities, the company
provides bridges to ERP and/or legacy systems in place, which are based
on Microsoft technology. Beside Solomon, we are aware of the company's
successful partnership with Navision in the European market. We expect
Ultimate Connection to pursue a number of alliances with other mid-market
ERP vendors. Ultimate Connection's products are particularly appropriate
for those ERP vendors who have failed to provide their own vertical solutions,
which are aimed at retail industry specific solutions.
value proposition may be welcomed in this market and will infuse fresh
air into an industry that has traditionally been underserved. However,
nobody should expect an easy ride and a passive reaction from local competitors.
The latest IBM move, to take stake in retail software vendor Retek and
aggressively market it, speaks in that regard. This will, nonetheless,
give the competition a run for their money and force other retail software
players like JDA Software, SVI, Radius and STS Systems to thoroughly re-think
their business models and further focus on customer satisfaction.
We encourage potential North American retail users of Microsoft-centric
technology and Solomon partners to familiarize themselves with the newcomer
company's value proposition, since we believe that it provides some extra
leverage to their negotiating position with all vendors involved in a
particular selection exercise for the retail industry. However, users
should be wary of Ultimate Connection's global service and support capabilities
given that its existing North American infrastructure is only at a pre-embryonic
stage. Further, one should bear in mind the significant differences in
taxation and business practices between US and South Africa and make sure
that the product functionality completely supports local requirements.
recommend identifying your unique needs and comparison shopping. The least
you will gain is information to use for leverage during negotiations.
Each product should be put through its paces using a well-documented set
of requirements, scripted scenario demonstrations and rigorous reference
checking. Despite promised tight integration of ActiveRetail, Solomon
Software maintains its openness and interconnectivity to other products,
which is one more incentive for considering all viable candidates.
any case, users are advised to ask for Solomon's firm assurances on the
availability and future upgrades timeframes, and more detailed scope of
combined product functionality. Also, make sure that Solomon Software
or its partner offers a single contract and help desk for all embedded
components within its product offerings.