NetLedger links Yahoo, Oracle for small businesses

Small businesses selling their wares through Yahoo Inc.'s Yahoo Store can now exchange sales information and other data with Oracle Corp.'s Small Business Suite online management software to streamline e-commerce operations, according to a NetLedger Inc. announcement Wednesday.

NetLedger has enhanced integration between the Yahoo Store and the Small Business suite so that companies that use both online packages can transfer between the applications without having to sign out of one service and into another. However, only 300 Oracle Small Business Suite customers fall into that category, according to information provided by NetLedger, which developed the software and currently hosts the online application.

Data can now be imported and exported directly to and from the applications, allowing, for example, shoppers at Yahoo Store to determine the availability of a product by checking the inventory level in Oracle Small Business Suite.

NetLedger also added automated credit card payments, which allows Oracle Small Business Suite to send a message to Yahoo Store once an order has been shipped, capturing the credit card number of the buyer for payment.

Yahoo Store allows small businesses to sell over the Internet by creating or running their entire Web site on Yahoo's servers, or linking their existing Web sites to Yahoo's e-commerce software. For a monthly fee and other transaction-based fees, Yahoo provides small businesses with e-mail, domain registration, and assistance in placing advertisements on Yahoo's network.

NetLedger stores accounting, inventory, payroll, and sales information for Oracle Small Business Suite users on its servers at its headquarters in San Mateo, and can be accessed by registered users through a Web browser. Half of the companies using Small Business Suite have between 10 and 100 employees, said NetLedger.

Oracle's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Larry Ellison is also chairman of the board at NetLedger, which he originally financed. Oracle attached its brand to the Small Business Suite to add name recognition and marketing resources, said Paul Hamerman, research director for Giga Information Group Inc., based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

"The completely hosted (accounting software) model has some potential, but it's not quite catching on," he said.

Established companies, such as Oracle and Yahoo, are moving to collect revenue from small business transactions previously serviced by dot-com companies, and are looking at partnerships and product enhancements to gather that market share, said Penny Gillespie, senior industry analyst for Giga. They are also focusing on "straight-through processing," or automating as many steps from order to fulfilment as possible, she said.

"Where companies used to think value came from the movement of money (through an e-commerce site), the real value comes from the movement of data," she said.

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