DATA BASE

WWD: Is the recent proliferation of business-to-business Web sites a passing fad, or the beginning of a long-term effort to leverage the Internet’s largest sector?
Ken Cassar, digital commerce analyst, Jupiter Communications: “The recent flurry of activity in the B2B, or business-to-business commerce space, is more than just the flavor of the day.
“The intense focus on B2C, or business to consumer commerce, that has defined the past three years online has left a crowded, competitive market in cyberspace. Many consumer-focused ventures will fail or will be acquired as an inevitable shakeout sweeps the online retail sector.
“Companies that recognize this are scrambling to what they hope is higher ground: the B2B arena, where sales and marketing expense is minimal, traffic is light and customers are less fickle. “They will, of course, find that success in the B2B space is harder than it looks.
They will be forced to hire a sales force and to incur the fixed expenses that accompany a sales force. They will also find that each customer account is of critical importance.
“The notion that it is all right to make the occasional mistake will hold even less validity in the B2B world than it does in the B2C world.
“However, we will indeed find that the traits that make a B2C site a good one will also make a strong B2B play. Competencies, including database design and management, site infrastructure design and development, and the development of technologies to effectively interface with users and to process transactions, are critical to any e-commerce player — and have been mastered by the best B2C sites.”