Online Trading Exchange Fever Hits Retailers
Many retailers use the Internet as a medium to sell toconsumers, and now they're using the Web to reach suppliers
and distributors. Sears, Roebuck and Co. and French retailer
Carrefour on Monday agreed to team with Oracle to create an
online marketplace for retailers and their trading partners.
And i2 Technologies revealed an online exchange for apparel,
textile, and home furnishings manufactures, suppliers, and
retailers. Its first anchor tenant is VF Corp., maker of the
Lee, Wrangler, Healthtex, and Jantzen clothing brands.
Sears and Carrefour say their network, GlobalNetExchange,
will make buying apparel, soft goods, hard goods, and
groceries faster and more efficient than through electronic
data interchange networks. Though they've yet to name any
suppliers involved, they plan to hold the first auction
online in a few weeks. They also plan to bring more
retailers onto the exchange and add inventory management,
order promising, and transportation scheduling capabilities.
SoftgoodsMatrix.com, i2's site, will provide similar
services and plans to start operation in April.
Oracle, which holds a minority interest in
GlobalNetExchange, will provide the transaction and database
software on which the exchange will run as well as
implementation and support services. This is the second
business-to-business trading exchange in which Oracle has a
stake. The company has a similar role in an automotive
industry marketplace on the Web with Ford Motor Co., which
merged last week with a competing exchange run by General
Motors Corp. and Commerce One Inc. and now also includes
Observers believe the key to the success of exchange in any
industry it to attract enough of the right participants. The
opportunity for fragmentation is greater in retail, where
there are tens of thousands of suppliers, than in
automotive, where there are relatively few top manufacturers
and tier-one suppliers, says Bob Ferrari, an analyst at AMR
Research. "Every day now we're hearing about more industry
exchanges," Ferrari says. "There has to be some
rationalization to get everyone to play."
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