LiveCommerce 2.0 offers richer feature set

With the latest version of LiveCommerce, Open Market Inc. has turned an “unwieldy process” into an on-line catalogue package with greater functionality and more control, users say.

Live Commerce 2.0 is an enterprise application package that enables companies to create personalized on-line catalogues.

“The feature set is quite a bit larger in version 2.0. In version 1.0, for example, if you wanted to take an action based on how many items were in your search state it was an extremely unwieldy process,” said Deborah Lafky, digital media manager at Sparkman Company in Palos Verdes, Calif. “With a much more sophisticated expression language, you can now say the same thing in one line of code that used to take 20.”

Open Market has added a number of new features to its latest version, including a new, real time dynamic entry that adds a “better connection between catalogues and the outside world,” said Ian Finley, manager of product marketing at Burlington, Mass.-based Open Market. This allows buyers to jump from anywhere on the Web to the appropriate item in a LiveCommerce catalogue, making the catalogue a seamless part of a company’s Web site.

In addition to new Solaris availability, which allows users to deploy catalogues on both Windows NT and Solaris servers, version 2.0 also adds the ability to link with ERP systems with inventory, pricing and product information APIs.

According to Bob Parker, research director at AMR Research in Boston, Mass., “one of the most difficult parts of deploying a commerce application, either buy-side or sell-side, is integrating that with the back office systems that are running at the large enterprise.” With 2.0’s improvements in integration, this has become considerably easier, he said.

Two additional features include multiple language support and dynamic page language. The latter not only provides a range of display options and personalization flexibility, including a feedback mechanism to track end users’ behaviour, but aids in integrating a catalogue with an existing Web site and allows developers to use any standard HTML or Java script and embed it in the catalogue.

According to Lafky, this feature is extremely helpful for design processes.

“It means that you have more control over your page layout and you can put things in with HTML that LiveCommerce won’t let you do like a really nicely formatted table, for example, and some graphic manipulation,” she said.

“One of the drawbacks to LiveCommerce, regardless of version, is that page layout is extremely difficult. It’s very finicky to get the page laid out just the way you want it.”

In fact, users agree that LiveCommerce 2.0 is definitely not a product for beginners and requires prior experience to utilize the available functionality.

“You would not be able to take people who had no software development experience and throw them into this and expect them to have a clue what’s going on…there is no graphical user interface, no development tools whatsoever. You have to be a programmer to program this, there’s just no getting around that,” Lafky said.

Angie Snelling, director of e-commerce at Cincinnati-based Milacron Inc. agreed. “There is definitely a learning curve, but I think just for the flexibility you’re going to get, it’s reasonable.”

According to Finley, 2.0 gives users the flexibility to make “the catalogue look any way you like.” This means, however, that the process relies heavily on creation.

Pricing for LiveCommerce 2.0 base catalogue system (, including consulting work to build the catalogue, templates for rapid deployment, hierarchical and rich text search and comparison tables, starts at US$45,000.

Open Market in Oakville, Ont., is at (905) 469-1130.

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