QRS helps retailers eLink to the Web

Now trying to cash in on the e-commerce solutions craze is QRS Corp. of Richmond, Calif., with their rendition of an Internet messaging service that it says empowers businesses to conduct e-commerce over the ‘net.

eLink is a fully-managed messaging service that offers data transformation, transport and security. It supports any-to-any mapping, including traditional EDI standards, XML and proprietary formats, according to the company.

Erika Garcia, QRS’s product manager for eLink, said the product’s main strength is it allows users to take advantage of the power of the Web.

“For businesses already doing their own EDI with a system in place, this helps enhance their reach to the Internet,” she said. “For those customers who are new to the Internet, it can handle their XML and EDI requirements. If a company doesn’t want to make that initial EDI investment, [with eLink] they can take any file in any format and send it out to their customers using XML or EDI as well as doing data transformation.”

According to Garcia’s colleague – senior vice-president of e-commerce services Candy Smith – the eLink service enables enterprises of any size and/or IT structure to conduct secure business on-line.

“[QRS is] definitely on a path of 100 per cent e-commerce,” Smith professed. “Our goal is to target everyone from the SOHO level up to large retailers who need help with their e-commerce needs.”

Connecting to eLink is made possible via QRS’ EasyAccess software, which supports any network protocol format. With the Web-based deployment of the software and account set up, a trading partner can be enabled within three days, according to QRS.

“The EasyAccess software also contains encryption and PKI certification offerings,” Garcia added. “In addition to working in conjunction with eLink, EasyAccess allows for event driven or batch files to be sent in any format the recipient is expecting. It can do data encryption as well.”

IDC Canada analyst Kevin Restivo said QRS has hit the right market with eLink. “They’re dealing in a niche vertical market, that being the retail sector,” Restivo said from his Toronto office. “It’s a hot market right now, and retailers understand the need for quick and cheap transaction processing while maintaining a stable management team.”

International Data Corp. predicted e-commerce applications for retailers will top US$23 billion by 2004, a compounded market growth rate of 66 per cent each year.

“The challenge for QRS will be what value-added services will they offer their clients as they expand,” Restivo added. “They’re up against a slew of competition from the likes of Ariba and CommerceOne. They need to provide real differentials beyond retail.”

eLink and the EasyAccess software pricing is based on an individual customer’s requirements, Garcia said.

QRS Corp. can be reached at (978) 283-9505.