Netscape Marketplace Strikes Deal with Travelocity

In a bid to further expand its e-commerce offerings, the Netscape NetbusinessMarketplace announced Tuesday that it has struck a deal withTravelocity.com (Nasdaq: TVLY) to sell airline tickets, hotel bookings and car rentalreservations.

The Netbusiness Marketplace, which is a joint venture by AOL Time Warner (NYSE: AOL) and onlinebusiness-to-business developer PurchasePro (Nasdaq: PPRO), provides a venue for businesses to conduct online transactions.

The companies did not indicate when the Travelocity.com private-labelmarketplace will be up and running.

At the same time, AOL and PurchasePro said they have entered into anagreement with the BizProLink Network to supply business applications andindustry-specific content for the marketplace. Financial terms of the dealswere not disclosed.

“By further expanding the industry-specific and broad-based marketsavailable to buyers and sellers from companies of all sizes, we haveincreased the effectiveness and relevance of the Netbusiness Marketplace,”Fred Singer, AOL Interactive Services senior vice president and NetscapeNetbusiness general manager, said of the agreements.

Building on B2B

Looking to tap the exploding B2B channel, AOL and PurchasePro haveaccelerated their efforts to beef up their e-marketplace in recent months. Tothis end, they have initiated joint sales, marketing and product developmentoperations.

The companies also have looked to drive marketplace membershipwith the Netbusiness Card, which allows registered users to createa online storefront for free.

According to AOL and Purchase Pro, one of the chief strengths of the marketplaceis its potential to “reshape procurement processes, modify businesscommunications between buyer and seller, and enhance channel development forbusinesses, regardless of size.”

Their work seems to be paying off. Since March alone, the companies haveentered into agreements with Hewlett-Packard, Homestore.com,Monster.com and Spherion Corporation to offer services on the site. In addition, the firms have said thatthey are looking to integrate all of PurchasePro’s 140,000 businesses intothe marketplace.

Spending Spike

A study released in March by Gartner found that North American B2B spending reached US$255billion in 2000. The figure represented 59 percent of the $433 billion spentworldwide. Moreover, the research firm predicted, North American B2Be-commerce spending will hit $480 billion in 2001.

Endurance also may be a key to B2B success. A separate report issued inMarch by ActivMedia Research revealed that 32 percent of all B2B companiescurrently online are turning a profit.However, 46 percent of the B2B firms that have been online for three or moreyears are profitable, the report found.

Executives are also bullish on the benefits of B2B, according to a Decemberstudy by consulting firm Arthur Andersen. Half of the executives surveyed byAndersen see digital marketplaces as a “critical means of competitivepositioning” in 2001.

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