Microsoft Releases Beta for Microsoft Merchant System

REDMOND, Wash., Aug. 5, 1996 —
Today, at a training workshop for more than 175 major corporations from around the world, Microsoft Corp. delivered on the first of the company’s Internet commerce goals by releasing the beta version of Microsoft® Merchant System. Microsoft Merchant System is a secure, comprehensive Internet retailing software product that provides companies that want to sell merchandise over the Internet with the ability to create a compelling consumer experience with limited custom development.

Microsoft Merchant System can be used to run a single storefront or to host multiple storefronts to create an Internet mall environment. Incorporating many of the technologies obtained in Microsoft’s June 1996 acquisition of eShop Inc., the technology provides several benefits to companies that set up Internet commerce sites, enabling them to accomplish the following:

  • Create a compelling and secure shopping experience

  • Conduct dynamic, promotion-based merchandising by combining detailed user and order tracking with targeted discount promotions

  • Integrate Internet storefronts with existing systems

  • Conduct secure Internet payment as supported by VeriFone® vPOS
    ™
    technology. (A joint announcement by Microsoft and VeriFone Inc. also released today has additional information.)

“By making it easier for merchants to create and maintain powerful online stores, we believe that there will be a dramatic increase in Internet commerce, providing companies with new sales channels and business opportunities,”
said Hank Vigil, general manager of the electronic commerce group at Microsoft.
“Microsoft is committed to providing the best shopping experience for consumers and the best merchandising tools for merchants. We are excited and encouraged by the high number of companies attending our Microsoft Merchant System beta workshop.”

Building State-of-the-Art Internet Storefronts With Minimum Custom Development

Until today, merchants have had to resort to expensive custom development to create sophisticated Internet commerce sites. With Microsoft Merchant System, merchants can build innovative storefronts using
“starter”
stores along with advanced Web technologies such as ActiveX
™
Controls and Java. As part of the Microsoft Merchant System software package, Microsoft will provide sample store configurations that can also be easily adapted to meet a merchant’s specific needs.

Microsoft Merchant System offers companies improved cost advantages by allowing them to take full advantage of their current information technology investments. Merchants can use their existing databases based on Microsoft Merchant System’s unique database schema. Easy product database management allows merchants to post product data online quickly, including support for multiple product attributes, without requiring advanced programming skills. Merchants can also integrate Internet orders with their existing order-management system, securely accept and route credit-card payments, and provide tax, shipping and handling calculations.

“We were thrilled when we heard about Microsoft’s plans to implement eShop’s technologies as part of a comprehensive Internet commerce solution,”
said Chris McCann, vice president of 1-800-FLOWERS.
“Finally, companies can create powerful online retail solutions without having either to break the bank on expensive custom solutions or become experts in proprietary technology. Being the pre-eminent brand in the retail floral industry, we are very pleased at this opportunity to improve our service to online customers and implement a more strategic approach to managing online commerce.”

Providing a Robust, Secure and Scalable Solution for Internet Selling

The Microsoft Merchant System provides scalability for high-volume selling, industrial-strength security based on open industry standards, and robust performance on the Windows NT® operating system.

For the single merchant as well as the Internet mall provider, Microsoft Merchant System facilitates high-volume selling in both transaction volume and the number of SKUs supported. Companies can flexibly configure their Merchant System over single or multiple servers and over single or multiple machines, optimizing their hardware investment and simplifying systems management without compromising security. Based on industry security standards, Microsoft Merchant System offers built-in support for the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol and optional support for the Secure Electronic Transactions (SET) credit-card encryption protocol, enabling merchants and customers to shop easily and safely.

“Since the day we launched our Sympatico Internet service, our customers have demonstrated strong demand for an Internet commerce solution,”
said Bruce Okabe, assistant vice president of strategic business development, BC TEL Interactive.
“We believe that Microsoft’s solutions will allow us to meet the needs of these customers as well as the many new customers who are joining our service every day. We’ve been looking for a cost-effective, flexible Internet merchandising solution that is easy to deploy and isn’t based on a proprietary approach. Microsoft Merchant System will help us extend our business into the fast-paced, high-demand world of Internet commerce.”

Providing the Best Customer and Merchandising Experience

To produce the best customer experience and promotion-based merchandising, Microsoft Merchant System will enable consistent and easy shopping on any secure Web browser. Upcoming implementations of ActiveX Controls, such as client-side wallet and payment controls, will further improve the Internet shopping experience. Built-in product search support allows customers to find products they want easily. Combining detailed user and order tracking with targeted discount promotions empowers merchants to conduct dynamic, promotion-based merchandising that can better encourage customers to purchase.

Open Support for Building Commerce Infrastructure

Microsoft also announced it will openly publish interfaces so that solution providers, independent software vendors and other third parties can build merchandising applications and solutions on Microsoft software. The company is working with several third parties to accelerate the building of an electronic commerce infrastructure, including payment processing companies and technology companies involved in taxes, shipping and site development.

Industry Embraces Microsoft Merchant

In addition to strong interest shown by the more than 175 companies attending today’s Merchant System beta workshop, industry innovators applauded the introduction of the powerful cost-effective Internet commerce solution.
“Microsoft Merchant System will be incredibly valuable to merchants who want to start selling on the Internet,”
said Terry Lake, director of advanced technologies at NCR Corp.
“NCR has been a leader in delivering proven information technology solutions to retailers, and we’re excited to be working with Microsoft in their Internet commerce solutions. Microsoft Merchant System will complement the evolving services that NCR provides to merchants for a comprehensive, industrial-strength solution for Internet merchandising.”

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (NASDAQ
“MSFT”
) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.

Microsoft, Windows NT and ActiveX are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

VeriFone is a registered trademark and vPOS is a trademark of VeriFone Inc.

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