Blue Martini readies channel solution for b2b partners

E-commerce solutions provider Blue Martini Software Inc. this week will take the wraps off the latest version of its channel management technology, Blue Martini Channels, which aims to help companies drive sales through partner portals and online marketplaces.

Blue Martini Channels is one of four new applications in the vendor's Blue Martini 4 suite that individually targets a separate line of business; other offerings address the commerce, marketing, and service arenas.

"It enables companies to build partner portals that result in more effective and profitable resellers and distributors," said Monte Zweben, president and CEO of Blue Martini.

According to company officials, the key ingredient in the new application is Universal Catalog, which allows companies to easily collect, organize, manage, and deploy disparate product information to multiple touch points, such as Web sites or online marketplaces.

The Universal Catalog information can be enhanced with images, graphics, sound files, video clips, and other digital data throughout the application, officials said.

Blue Martini Channels is aimed at companies that sell through channels of distributors, brokers, dealers, resellers, agents, and retailers. One such company, Club Colors, in Schaumburg, Ill., has been running on Blue Martini's channel solution since July.

Club Colors, which sells specialized promotional products to corporations, built Web sites for 25 clients, including Sun Microsystems, Kemper Funds, and Motorola, using the software.

"It has really helped us to create a client-specific site," said C.J. Ritterbusch, director of marketing at Club Colors.

"A customer like Sun doesn't want us to just build a generic Web site for them. They'll have specific products, pricing, and payment methods. What they get from us is a branded page," Ritterbusch said.

Using the Blue Martini Channels interfaces, Club Colors employees took an average of approximately four days to build the sites, Ritterbusch said.

"With Blue Martini we can run specific promotions, such as offering a 10 percent discount for a month or two, and discount specific items as well," Ritterbusch said. "The main advantage was the personalization capabilities."

Other companies planning to deploy Blue Martini Channels include S.P. Richards, a wholly owned subsidiary of Genuine Parts; data storage vendor Iomega; and sewing machine manufacturer Bernina, according to Blue Martini.

Blue Martini 4 also includes Blue Martini Marketing, Blue Martini Commerce, and Blue Martini Service applications.

The company recently announced a strategic agreement to deliver its Blue Martini Adapter for the business-to-business marketplace platform of Commerce One, based in Pleasanton, Calif. That deal is similar to the one Blue Martini struck last year with Commerce One competitor Ariba, based in Mountain View, Calif.

The integration is expected to link manufacturers and distributors via the Blue Martini Customer Interaction System directly to b-to-b online marketplaces and buyers deployed on Commerce One's own MarketSite b-to-b platform.

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