Internet Heavyweights Form E-Commerce Council

The National Retail Federation is bringing together some of the Internet’s biggest commercial technology names to provide guidance for companies looking to create a retail presence on the Web. IBM, Intel Corp., Oracle Corp., Netcentives and Net Perceptions agreed to join the newly-formed Internet Commerce Council. The group is headed by eGain Communications and BeFree Inc.

The ICC, which is open to NRF associate members who develop tools that enable and enhance Internet retailing, will focus on Internet-related customer service, marketing and merchandising issues. The council will help NRF members evaluate e-commerce technology choices for retailers through educational events and information-sharing activities. The group’s assistance will apply to both traditional retailers that are creating a Web presence and solely Web-based retailers looking to stay on top of evolving technology and thereby improve their services.

“Each of these types of companies has unique technology needs, from how to integrate with existing corporate systems to determining the fastest way to deploy solutions,” the council said. “Through education, round tables and networking, the ICC will provide an effective forum for NRF members to get information about the technology of e-commerce.”

Expanding NRF Internet Effort

The council will work with the NRF’s Internet Retailing Advisory Council, which focuses on online marketing and merchandising. The retailing council was formed in May to create industry-led initiatives to improve the overall online consumer experience and enhance Internet retailing efforts. The group includes 23 major online companies, such as America Online, Brooks Brothers, Gymboree Corp., Neiman Marcus Direct, Sears Roebuck & Co., Starbucks Coffee Company and the U.S. Postal Service.

The Internet Commerce Council plans to kick off its efforts later this month at the NRF’s annual e-commerce and Internet sales convention. “NRF.com — Retailing and Technology in the New Economy” runs from September 26-29 in Philadelphia. NRF members represent more than 1.4 million U.S. retail establishments, employ more than 20 million people and posted $2.7 trillion in sales last year. The NRF also represents 32 national and 50 state associations in the U.S., as well as 36 international retail associations.

About the Companies

eGain develops customer service infrastructures for e-commerce companies, while BeFree specializes in custom online marketing programs. IBM, Intel and Oracle are computer hardware and networking infrastructure firms.

Netcentives creates online promotion, direct marketing and loyalty programs for 60 online merchants, while Net Perceptions develops customer personalization technology for more than 100 clients, including CDNow, Planet Direct and Ticketmaster.com.

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