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CommercialWare: Web Services Tailor-made for Retailers

CommercialWare is readying a Web services offering to allow retailers to better share information and collaborate with partners and suppliers.

Over the next two months, the product will be tested with existing customers, with general availability by December, according to Jane Cannon, vice president of research and development for the Natick, Mass., firm.

"CommercialWare charges per integration and Web Services will be an additional cost for this particular option," Cannon said. "The cost will depend on the scope of the integration."

The offering will allow users to link order management software with remote applications in the private data centers of other companies via the Internet. That way, CommercialWare customers could easily incorporate business partners into their planning processes, freeing up staff for other IT projects.

Broadly defined, Web services allow different applications from different sources to communicate with each other without time-consuming custom coding. And because all communication is in XML, Web services are not tied to any one operating system or programming language. For example, Java can talk with Perl, Windows applications can talk with UNIX applications.

According to IT market researcher Gartner, Web services is expected to become the dominant mode of deployment for new applications by 2004.

Web services is a logical next step for the company, which aims to make the IT side of retailing as painless as possible. It currently provides order management, fulfillment, reverse logistics and supply chain collaboration software.

It has more than 90 customers including Abercrombie and Fitch, Target, Starbucks, Brooks Brothers, J. Jill, Ritz Camera, JoS A. Bank, and Patagonia. Privately held CommercialWare has about 60 employees.