Switzerland's largest telecommunications group, Swisscom, is launching a business-to-business electronic market place with the aim of becoming the biggest such market in the country.
Conextrade is based on a product by the United States-based Commerce One company, with whom Swisscom concluded an agreement in January. This new trading platform will link buyers and sellers throughout Switzerland and central Europe, accelerating trade and reducing costs for trading partners.
Swisscom's own purchasing department will be the first customer on the Electronic Marketplace.
"We acknowledge the substantial return on investment and significant cost reductions that e-procurement can offer to Swisscom, as well as our customers and suppliers," said Jens Alder, chief executive officer of Swisscom.
"The Commerce One MarketSite solution and participation in the Global Trading Web will allow us to build an open marketplace and offer the full advantages of electronic trading on a global scale," he added.
Swisscom has also teamed up with other strategic partners as part of the deal, including Swiss Post, Anderson Consulting, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, Econis, Xmedia and Karl Steiner Holding.
In a first step, Swisscom will offer online procurement solutions designed for the needs of large companies. In a further step, the new online marketplace will be extended towards vertical markets, including small and medium enterprises.
Swisscom is planning to introduce additional value-added services such as logistics. In addition, Conextrade will be enhanced with extra features like business-to-business (B2B) auctions.
"By combining Swisscom's industry leadership with Commerce One's expertise and experience in establishing real-time trading communities, we will jointly deliver a comprehensive B2B regional portal," said Mark Hoffman, president and chief executive officer of Commerce One.
"Through this new relationship we will have the ability to increase electronic B2B trading in Europe and on a global scale, as the Global Trading Web continues to expand."
Swisscom said in a statement that Conextrade was of "enormous strategic importance" to it, as the electronic marketplace was a fundamental pillar of the business-to-business e-commerce growth market. It said it expected substantial value from it in the future.
It said it would make an investment of SFr1.6 million in Conextrade in 2000 and had ambitious growth targets which it did not detail.
by Tom O'Brien