RealTime IT News

Web-based Apps Go Retail

Adding credence to the expression "everything old is new again," At Your eService has announced partnerships with two major computer store chains to offer Web-based applications in a box.

Beginning June 4, the Campbell Calif-based publisher of Web-based applications and services will make 20 hosted software products available through computer retailers Micro Center and Frye's Electronics. Each chains lists 18 stores. Micro Center outlets are spread across the country and Fry's Electronics are located on the West Coast.

The goal is to reach small and medium size business (SMBs) that typically buy products through the retail channel or through catalogs. Finding applications on the Internet "is not something most small businesses can related to," Diane Archer, president and CEO of At Your eService, told ASPnews. "It's not like these customers are out there searching the Internet for things they don't know exist."

At first, Archer said At Your Service with sell 20 Web-based products, including the following:

  • EmailFactory — designed to enable companies to promote their products and services with e-mail marketing campaigns without needing to know databases or how to manage an e-mail list.

  • onProject.com — designed to help companies manage projects and teams from anywhere over the Web. Customers can share information among their employees, customers and vendors without installing a network.

  • TimeDirect — designed to manage employee expense reports and time cards through a Web-based application.

  • Click4HR – HR Self Service Center — combines human resource, payroll, benefits, and recruitment information into one single secure database. This Web-based application is designed to reduce redundant data entry and other manual administrative tasks.

It would be difficult for an application provider to get shelf space on their own, which is what makes the At Your eService program attractive to software partners. "It's harder to find space today in stores than it was a year ago," Archer said. The retailers prefer having one company — rather than 20 or more — to deal with it, she added. "We have long-term established relationship with the retail channel."

At Your eService's objective is to do more than just get the products in stores. It wants to educate small businesses about Web-based applications. Partner products will have "uniform DVD-style packaging," according to Archer. She added that while the package is uniform, each product will feature unique design elements. The packages will be on a display that "explains the benefits of e-services."

In addition to screening the products for overall quality, Archer told ASPnews that At Your eService screens for finanical stability, reducing the risk for both channel partners and customers. To help smaller companies get started, the retailers and At Your eService will use a revenue-sharing model.

The At Your eService announcements follow news earlier this month that Netledger will sell its Accounting Pro ASP service at retail outlets for $59.95 through a partnership with Elibrium. (See NetLedger Thinks Inside the Box).

Could this be the sign of a larger trend to help ASPs reach the SMB market? "The retail distribution channel has grown up over the last 15-20 years. New technology should make use the existing infrastructure," Archer said. She adds that At Your eService is looking into other channel partners and more announcemnts will be forthcoming.