Sensis plans e-comm services with your Yellow Pages ad

Telstra's search and directory cash register Sensis will position itself as a vertically integrated provider of e-commerce transaction solutions via newly acquired IT systems integrators Kaz and Invizage, according to Sensis top brass.

Sensis chairman and group managing director for Telstra wholesale, Bruce Ackhurst told Computerworld Sensis aims to offer e-transaction facilities to the 420,000 Yellow Pages customers it already spruiks Web sites to, and cheerfully described the idea as "great".

"[The strategy is] still there, we are looking at it - but it's still a little way off. It would be great. We want to concentrate on [getting the new Sensis search brand up and running]. Ask me again next year," Ackhurst told Computerworld – before hastily adding he didn't mean it will be ready next year.

Sensis' general manager of search Greg Ellis was more forthcoming on detail about the transaction services play, but stressed Sensis was not out to compete with banks or credit providers. Rather, any transaction facility would be value-add over the Web site functionality Sensis currently offers enterprises rather a than stab into fee-based or interchange transactional processing.

"The Invizage opportunity provides us a way in which we might enter the transaction market. I don't pretend we are going to make a lot of money out of clipping the ticket. I think the carriers and the banks have got that market pretty well tied up – and I have got no intention of getting between those two," he said.

"What I can do is allow shopping carts…to allow the SMEs' Web sites to be transactionable. For example I can deliver a lead to Web site, the customer comes in and purchases, and then there's some transaction software that allows that transaction to happen." It would update the customer's general ledger and inventory with the transaction done through the Mastercard, Ellis said, adding "the banks and the carriers can have that last piece".

The transactional offering would be also offered via Telstra through Kaz in addition to Invizage, which would operate the transaction offering as a managed service rather than charging a fee-per-transaction, Ellis said.

"I do see us charging them for the lead, the transaction capability and the management of that. That's one of the strategic intents of Invizage. That business has to get more scalable - which is why we bought the business," he said.

Ellis said the managed service offering is expected to go to market some time in the 2005/6 financial year.

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Julian Bajkowski

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