Merisel Unveils New E-Services Business

Merisel Inc. (Nasdaq:MSEL) Tuesday (Dec 19) announced that its new e-services subsidiary will operate under the name Optisel.

The new Commerce Service Provider will offer a complete menu of turnkey e-services to manufacturers and brick-and-mortar retailers interested in growing Internet revenues while avoiding the high cost associated with systems implementation and warehousing.

“Businesses cannot afford to pass up the opportunities that the Internet has to offer. Optisel plans on leveraging these factors to grow its business. Going forward, Optisel’s e-services segment of the business will become one of Merisel’s primary focuses,” said David Sadler, CEO of Merisel and Optisel. “We are combining the infrastructure and experience of one of the largest e-commerce companies with one of the most recognized distribution companies in the industry and offering unmatched value to the marketplace.”

Optisel is built from the pieces of fallen Charlottesville, Va.-based e-tailer Value America, of which substantially all assets were acquired by Merisel in November for a purchase price of $2.3 million. The acquisition was intended to complement Merisel’s existing back-end logistics capability with a state-of-the-art front-end web-based customer interface and e-service offerings.

Optisel’s product offering will include logistics and distribution, e-commerce order management, web development and design, marketing services, interactive call center management, product return and resell management, and customer service. Optisel’s suite of services, which the company believes will be more comprehensive than any available today, will include state-of-the-art e-services supported by Siebel 2000, SAP 4.6, and Merisel’s customized warehouse management system technology (MILES).

Merisel’s warehouse facilities located in Chicago, Ill., and Hayward, Calif., will be consolidated into the newly formed company. These facilities will be a focal point for prospective customers looking for a world-class logistics partner specializing in e-commerce operations.

Optisel’s IT-based business solutions will utilize Merisel’s and Value America’s prior investment of $120 million dollars in IT systems to support its new Siebel and SAP undertakings. This technological infrastructure also includes Merisel’s state-of-the-art MILES warehouse management system, which has historically operated with a shipping accuracy of 99.993 percent.

Optisel’s IT-based business will have a capacity exceeding 1.5 million orders per month as initially configured and will be backed up with a hot-site disaster recovery system. The operating system will offer interfaces to Merisel’s in-house logistics operations and may be linked to a client or third-party warehouse operation. Optisel’s internal logistics capacity, today, is planned to exceed 600,000 orders per month.

The market potential for e-commerce services is compelling. Jupiter Research estimates that consumer spending on the Internet could reach $200 billion by 2005. Besides offering a lucrative selling channel to reach additional consumers, the Internet offers distinct business advantages including better relationship handling between business partners, the opportunity for a global presence, and reduced selling costs. Forrester Research projects that by 2003 residential transactions will increase to 2.1 billion per year.

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