A Derby-based software dealer has pioneered a Web storefront service that can feed online orders into Exchequer Enterprise and Pegasus Opera accounts systems.
Called Dragnet, the online catalogue site was put on show to the public at the National Accountancy Exhibition, held in Birmingham last week, where market-leader Sage was introducing its own Web storefront initiative, Sage.com.
Dragnet has been developing the link between online ordering and back-room order processing and accounts software for five years, said managing director Richard Goodley. Nine users already collect order information from Dragnet using version 1 of its software. But version 2, launched at the exhibition, emulates the structure of Opera and Enterprise order processing systems and feeds the details to them in their native formats.
For an annual fee starting at around £1,000 (plus additional start-up costs), Dragnet also runs a Web hosting service for its customers. Though Dragnet will cost roughly three times as much as Sage’s proposed Web storefronts, Goodley said it was a major saving on the £30,000 or so it would cost in hardware and data feeds for a customer to set up their own Web site.
Goodley contrasted Dragnet’s approach to Sage’s, where customers could place orders via Sage.com, but would still have to enter the details manually into their ledgers.
‘Sage will become another internet service provider, like Freeserve, but it has nothing to do with accounts,’ he said. ‘We’ve come at it from the point of view of an accounting software reseller and looked at how data is used.’
As well as linking up with Dragnet, Pegasus has added email messaging and Web connections to its Opera package. But the company’s electronic commerce efforts were overshadowed by the free internet service announced by its big rival, Sage. With exhibition visitors signing up for Sage.com at the rate of around 100 a day, Jonathan Hubbard-Ford, chief executive of Pegasus, admitted Sage had ‘captured the market’s imagination – but nobody knows where it’s leading to’.
DRAGNET: BRINGING IN THE WANTED ORDERS
The Dragnet Web server is designed for companies which want to take business-to-business orders on account without having to run a website themselves. It collects order information and emails the details to the selling company’s purchase-order department. The service currently works with Pegasus Opera and Exchequer Enterprise, but the company is talking to ‘one or two’ others. ‘E-commerce is just another sales rep,’ said Dragnet managing director Richard Goodley. ‘We’re trying to provide that structure through a browser.’
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