week 28 August Issue Homechoice goes "E" Homechoice,
a 15-year-old mail-order catalogue company, has completed
the first phase of its e-business implementation strategy.
This represents the first of a number of moves on the
part of the company to upgrade its systems and online
presence in preparation for the move to "E".
Originally briefed as a corporate relations site for
shareholders, many of Homechoice's clients, the emerging
mass consumer, were hitting its Web site from their
workplace, requesting information from the temporary
form-to-e-mail on the home page. The majority of customers
requested catalogues, account information and enquired
about purchasing products directly online.
Realising that mass consumer Internet access was far
greater than anticipated, the company revisited its
e-strategy, fusing a corporate information offering
with services. These include online catalogue order
forms, account applications, a human resources zone
and client services, among others.
"Clients will be able to purchase directly from the
site at a later date, when the development and testing
phase has been completed," says Chantelle Pearce, DTP
operator at Homechoice. "The company is currently evaluating
its options with regard to B2B offering on the market,
and defining the functionality it will require. There
is then a development and testing phase that must be
concluded to our satisfaction before the e-commerce
functionality can be implemented."
Fulfilment and logistics issues will also conceivably
need to be sorted out, and access to this information
will need to be added to the site to allow customers
to track the progress of their goods.
The company sells an extensive range of household goods
and fashion merchandise. A second division, Innovations,
features "gimmicky" items and this will be the first
site to be e-commerce enabled, with a temporary site
going live in November. Candor.com developed the customised
back-end, while Visuals & Interactives, a digital design
company, was responsible for front-end development.
Wido Schnabel, MD of Candor.com says: "Online Web stores
should be first cousins to mail order. Armed with the
complete fulfilment arsenal in addition to a client
base, HomeChoice is sure to become an e-commerce market
RAND DEAL FOR SLOTCITY.COM
Bay, South Africa. Application Solution Provider (ASP)
Candor.com has sold its domain -www.slotcity.com
- and a licence for its Internet gambling technology
in a multimillion Rand deal.
The web site was initially developed by Candor's R&D
department as a test site to prove that secure interactive
slot machines, based on straight HTML (Hyper Text Mark-up
Language) was possible.
Managing Director, Wido Schnabel says that Candor.com's
unique Internet business model has paid dividends. "Candor's
key differential is its strategic approach. We first
start off with an assessment and analysis of the target
market. If the results are favourable we then invest
in the R&D programme followed by the launch of a test
web site. At this point we have a gauging system that
delivers tangible results to any potential investor
The test site was launched back in 1997 proving that
exciting interactive Internet entertainment was possible
without having to resort to code being executed on end
users machines. Dietmar Frey, Candor.com's chairman
says "Slotcity.com offers fully operational slots that
don't need exorbitant bandwidth, program downloading
and cuts out the time-intensive downloading encountered
with Java Applets."
The international consortium specifically chose slotcity.com
for its high visual impact, low-bandwidth, solid development
and secure transaction features.
Based on Candor.com's ASP drive, Schnabel hopes this
deal will be a springboard for the other Internet technologies
that Candor.com has developed and tested over the last
four years. These technologies include E-Property, MotorBase,
E-Catalogue and DrugBase. "As one of South Africa's
first ASPs, we have a tried and tested, simple and cost-effective
alternative which allows companies to focus on their
core business while Candor.com's technology delivers
results-driven returns and minimises total cost of ownership."
On-line gamblers can win US$3000 on the jackpot, or
they can play for free by entering www.slotcity.com
and clicking on the free site button.
HOTTER THAN "E"
there's one thing hotter than "e" at the moment it's
ASP (Application Solution Provider). These sentiments
were echoed last year at the ASP Industry Consortium
which was only formed on 11th May 1999. And judging
by its membership it looks like the big guns appear
to have bought into the concept already. Members include
AT&T, Cisco, Compaq, Ernst & Young, IBM Corporation,
Lucent Technologies, Microsoft, National Semiconductor,
SCO, Sharp and Sun Microsystems.
The consortium defines an ASP as a provider who manages
and delivers application capabilities to multiple entities
from a data centre across a wide area network. Application
Service Providers offer a simple and cost-effective
alternative to managing technology in-house and help
customers precisely control the total cost of technology
Candor.com has operated as an ASP since early 1997,
long before the new trend emerged and creation of the
latest buzzword. Unlike the large ERP vendors however,
Candor.com has concentrated on smaller applications,
typically developed by its own team of specialists.
All of Candor.com's own internal admin functions are
provided by Web applications developed for Candor’s
specific needs. Similarly, Candor.com has provided Application
Hosting services to other customers including Unison
Communications (Pty) Ltd, one of SA's leading Telephone
Data Manangement Solution Providers. Unison has based
all of its admin systems on "Application Hosting", using
custom software developed by Candor.com.
With Candor.com based in Hout Bay and head office of
Unison based in Johannesburg, Derek Morris, Managing
Director (Unison) confirms, "Candor.com hosts a number
of applications which include a sales support system,
an order book system, automated contract billing, customer
support and maintenance job tracking. All enabled with
a password protected web-interface, my force can access
the information they need, when they need it, from anywhere,
all they need is a connection and a browser. What's
more, there are varied reports and access levels whereby
management or even individuals can monitor their own
progress and status. Unison further provides its customers
with direct access to parts of its internal admin systems,
thereby increasing customer service levels dramatically.
Candor.com's application solutions have definitely given
us the competitive edge with increased turnaround times,
superior customer service and an information network
specially tailored to our needs. Return on investment
is paramount to Unison and Candor.com has emulated this."
ASP model is companies' answer to refocus on their core
business and finally dictate to technology and not vice
versa as was tradition," says Wido Schnabel, Candor.com's
With Forrester Research predicting the market potential
to soar to as much as US$21 Billion in just over two
years, ASP could redefine the model for pricing software
with many added advantages to the already overburdened
IT workforce. ASP has stupendous advantages for medium
to large enterprise. Besides eliminating total reliance
on an already limited IT resource pool, Medium enterprise
can now minimise risk and the expense of purchasing
software outright. Large enterprises overseas are also
quickly adopting this model because Client/Server technology
has proven to be rather costly to deploy and maintain
and the idea of just having a Web browser on client
machines has appealed to many IT departments. A myriad
of opportunities exists where applications no longer
fail due to local PC failures and software revisions
and updates can be deployed at almost zero cost. New
application features can be rolled out over night and
made available to the entire user community without
laying hands on client workstations.
Schnabel says, "although application hosting is intrinsically
entwined with the Internet and e-commerce, it must be
dealt with as a single entity. There is already fragmentation
overseas and ASPs aren't clearly communicating the function
and business benefit that application hosting delivers.
Application hosting is not just about electronically
packaging Internet, Intranet and Extranet technologies.
The key is electronically simulating business processes
of an individual organisation. Before providing any
application solution to a client, we send one our business
consultants into the organisation for about 4 weeks.
After that we have a concise needs and process analysis
and only then do we start the calculated implementation
and development process backed by stern testing and
Apart from custom written applications, Candor also
offers base application technologies which are tailored
according to an organisation's business requirements.
These technologies include, document management, sales
support, job tracking, customer relationship management,
human resources and lower end ERP utilities.
Schnabel concludes, "I suspect that many inexperienced
companies are going to jump on the ASP bandwagon, fortunately
Candor.com has a history-rich experience where hard
and valued lessons were learnt and it's from these 'lessons'
where businesses will benefit."
HITS 3 MILLION.
Solution Provider (ASP) Candor.com had over 3-Million
hits and half a million visitors (sessions) to its web
site - www.drugbase.co.za
in 1999. A staggering figure considering the site was
launched back in 1997 by Candor.com's R&D department
with no marketing support what so ever.
Wido Schnabel, Candor.com's Managing Director says,
"following the success of the multimillion Rand Slotcity.com
deal which amplifies Candor's business approach to initially
invest in research, development and testing to minimise
investor risk, the time has come to find a partner who
will drive and market www.drugbase.co.za. With Candor.com
providing the technology we have the formula which can
pay tremendous dividends."
DrugBase is the brainchild of Dr John Jensen and is
South Africa's first public drug database that covers
both over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Candor.com
has permission from the department of health to publish
medicine information compiled from package inserts supplied
by pharmaceutical companies up to and including Schedule-7
DRUGBASE HITS 3 MILLION. Application Solution Provider
(ASP) Candor.com had over 3-Million hits and half a
million visitors (sessions) to its web site - www.drugbase.co.za
in 1999. A staggering figure considering the site was
launched back in 1997 by Candor.com's R&D department
with no marketing support what so ever. Wido Schnabel,
Candor.com's Managing Director says, "following the
success of the multimillion Rand Slotcity.com deal which
amplifies Candor's business approach to initially invest
in research, development and testing to minimise investor
risk, the time has come to find a partner who will drive
and market www.drugbase.co.za. With Candor.com providing
the technology we have the formula which can pay tremendous
dividends." DrugBase is the brainchild of Dr John Jensen
and is South Africa's first public drug database that
covers both over-the-counter and prescription drugs.
Candor.com has permission from the department of health
to publish medicine information compiled from package
inserts supplied by pharmaceutical companies up to and
including Schedule-7 drugs
Included in the web site is a wealth of content covering
other medical genres such as medical advice, treatments,
latest medical developments and new pharmaceutical releases
all easily accessed by a powerful search engine.
Dr Jensen says, "Candor.com has invested large amounts
of money and time in the last three years compiling
the database and commissioning medical professionals
to submit content. The web site's core focus was to
empower end users to easily access information about
medicine that has been prescribed to them or drugs that
have been standing in the medicine cabinet over the
years. DrugBase has other added benefits which include
comprehensible information resources that cover everything
from allergies, paediatric conditions to sports injuries."
Schnabel concludes, "The opportunity lies in transforming
DrugBase into South Africa's most powerful medical content
portal. Candor.com is an internet technology and development
company and its technology on which we focus. We want
a dedicated partner, preferably a large medical concern
with a rich marketing history who can take DrugBase
to its full potential, so that we can continue to do
what we do best - results-driven internet and development
DrugBase can be accessed at www.drugbase.co.za.
E-PROPERTY PROVIDER SOLUTION
Based on its Application Service Provider
(ASP) business model and its objective to professionally
consolidate the tarnished Internet property genre, Candor.com
has launched www.e-property.co.za.
A full internet database-driven property catalogue listing
solution, E-Property empowers estate agents to finally
take control of their internet presence and more importantly
easily manipulate their own database - real time.
Armed with a digital camera or scanner and an internet
connection, estate agents can have their own web site,
domain (co.za) and a secure database solution from as
little as R5 000.00.
E-Property was developed for the retail, commercial,
industrial and rental property markets. With access
via a password protected administration module, estate
agents can add, edit or delete a listing whenever they
choose. With 4 pictures per listing (for interior shots,
exterior shots or renderings) estate agents can enter
a user-friendly web-interface which caters for descriptions
such as selling price, special features, number of bedrooms
and bathrooms, garage/s and provisions for any additional
information they require.
Wido Schnabel, Candor.com's managing director says,
"the most profound advantage is that anyone familiar
with a mouse and keyboard can easily manipulate the
listings themselves and time-to-market is rapidly increased
guaranteeing the most up-to-date dissemination of information
to a prospective client base."
Besides the particular user-friendly design approach
perhaps the most intriguing aspect of E-Property is
the technology that drives it. With two years of development,
research and continued consultation with leading property
companies, the central SQL database is designed to populate
over a thousand web sites with their own domains, posting
the data in a standard format according to each individual
sites navigation structure and look and feel.
Included is an image optimiser module. When the desired
image is loaded from a PC to the server, it can be easily
optimised. Firstly the user gets a choice of picture
orientation (0º, 90º, 180º or 270º) and then once selected
there is a contrast/brightness control. Once the picture
settings have been selected, the central server compresses
the image (regardless of initial size) to a 15-Kilobyte
image for optimised web viewing and download time and
posts it on the web page.
Greg Walton of Rattle Property group and one of the
first adopters of E-Property says, "E-Property not only
answered all our Internet needs but it has become an
invaluable business tool. I now have an up-to-the-minute
catalogue system, which can be viewed via the Internet,
or I can email a direct link of an individual property
listing. It's extremely easy to use, all my staff had
it waxed within an hour. All descriptions are catered
for and I can display up to 4 colour photographs giving
any potential buyer a much clearer picture."
Wido Schnabel, ends, "the property web arena is infested
with out of date listings, poor design and gross negligence.
E-Property is about securing professional web presence
and most importantly the transference of web site control
to the estate agents in turn offering the end user accurate
and current information."