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NetLedger Thinks Inside the Box

Who says shrink-wrapped software is not compatible with the ASP model? Certainly not small business ASP NetLedger Inc. – the San Mateo, Calif.-based developer of accounting, payroll, HR, CRM and other office solutions announced Monday (April 30) that it will begin selling a boxed starter kit of its Accounting Pro ASP service through retail channels.

"We're going to try a lot of different distribution strategies," NetLedger CEO Evan Goldberg told InternetNews. "It's hard to reach small businesses – they're geographically scattered and span different industries. There aren't centralized places to reach them like there are for enterprises."

NetLedger has partnered with Elibrium, a division of ClickAction Inc. (Nasdaq: CLAC), a provider of productivity software and services to simplify home and business life. Elibrium designed the packaging, negotiated with the retailers and basically created a turnkey solution for NetLedger, Goldberg said. Elibrium developed the MySoftware series of applications.

NetLedger's online accounting service will be sold in a box at retail stores such as Staples, Office Depot, and other office and computer supply stores as NetLedger Accounting Pro. Included in the box are a product manual, a getting-started guide and a CD. The CD will give users useful information about the benefits of the NetLedger Accounting Pro, an overview of what the product does and a sign-up process.

The offerings in the box include 4 months accounting and payroll service plus 5 employee access accounts. The suggested promotional retail price is $59.95, which represents more than a 50-percent savings compared to the cost of these items purchased separately online. In addition, there is a $10 rebate for users who switch from QuickBooks, Peachtree Accounting, One-Write Plus or Microsoft Money.

"It gets the customer on the road to running their entire business online," Goldberg said. In the future, NetLedger may release its new 1 System solution in a retail package.

This is a new approach to marketing ASP offerings to small businesses. Complementary to its Internet-based approach, this move helps NetLedger communicate the benefits of its online services to small businesses in a more direct way. "It is a wild card to play, but I believe this approach has great potential because traditionally more than 90 percent of small business software is sold through giant retail store chains," Goldberg said.