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CFDJ: Article

Interview... with Kevin Newling

Interview... with Kevin Newling

CFDJ: Tell us about AbleCommerce and Able Solutions. What are you all about?
Newling:
AbleCommerce was founded in 1994. We came across ColdFusion toward the end of that year. We'd originally developed an e-commerce application in C. When we saw how much opportunity there was to use the features of ColdFusion to do e-business, we developed our first version of AbleCommerce in ColdFusion. And that's when we started promoting it publicly.

CFDJ: How has AbleCommerce grown in terms of size and revenue since 1994?
Newling:
At its inception, AbleCommerce was an entrepreneurial vision. We contracted with small local companies seeking to enter the uncharted waters of e-commerce. From those inauspicious beginnings, AbleCommerce has evolved into a company that employs 35 people in the U.S. and 15 locations in other countries. Revenue has more than doubled each year for the last several years. Further, unlike many of the dot-coms that have emerged over the last several years, AbleCommerce has shown a solid profit and growth every year. With the release of two new products toward the end of 2000, we're forecasting phenomenal growth this year.

CFDJ: Where are you today?
Newling:
Well, we gained quite a few customers, including Nike, Casio, Compaq, and Hard Rock Hotel, as well as numerous smaller companies seeking to do business online. We've also launched our AuctionBuilder application, which we're proud to say now has a 7% share of the online auction market. Our newest e-commerce solution release is AbleCommerce CommerceBuilder 3.0.

CFDJ: How have companies such as Nike, Compaq, and others with pre-existing Web sites integrated AuctionBuilder with their current offerings?
Newling:
Numerous companies of various types have integrated AuctionBuilder into their sites. Some centered on the auction model, such as Music-HotBid, while others are e-commerce sites, such as Jangle.com, that have added auctions to enhance their online community and to act as a clearinghouse for unsold inventory. AuctionBuilder has also been integrated by real-world auction companies such as Felix-Holland in Texas (netauction.com) to add an online component, and there's a real estate company that auctions houses online. One of the most exciting applications of AuctionBuilder has been in the B2B market where companies that once served as the deal facilitator have evolved into entire online exchanges. One such company services the forest industry, another handles telecom hardware and materials, and one has even been created as an exchange medium for sporting event sponsorships and recruiting athlete spokespersons.

CFDJ: What's new in CommerceBuilder 3.0?
Newling:
Quite a bit really. It enables companies to be real ASPs or CSPs (Commerce Service Providers). To service this market, we have integrated a new feature called QuickStore. This allows service providers to compete with Yahoo stores and other online store rental services. Users can set up an AbleCommerce Store using the QuickStore feature and rent out stores without ever needing to talk to the actual merchants that come in. Merchants using our 2.9 product would have to know some HTML to build their store. We now have a built-in WYSIWYG (What You See is What You Get) editor, so you don't even need to know HTML. Other major features include a transition to international metrics including multicurrency display, a powerful product kitting tool for bundling component products, and an advanced tax calculation system.

CFDJ: Can you tell us about some component products that have been created?
Newling:
Several component products are currently available for integration with AbleCommerce, including resources to enable wireless access as well as tools that increase the core functionality of AbleCommerce. Foresite-design, one of our premier partners, has added capabilities to enable gift certificates and coupons, the creation of affiliate programs, and a global discount system.

We recently added two partners that offer solutions that tie directly into our products. Global CommerceZone has created a plugin that will automatically calculate a landed cost for international sales. Also, through a partnership with iCommunicate, we can offer an ASP-based online customer service system. All these solutions have been specifically tailored to integrate with the opportunities AbleCommerce software products open in the online commerce arena.

CFDJ: Sounds like you're in the running to win another Readers' Choice Award. What's the cost?
Newling:
The cost is $2,495 for the source code version, and $995 for the encrypted version. AbleCommerce 3.0 is also available bundled together with AuctionBuilder 1.0 in our suite version for $8,995.

CFDJ: We've heard a lot about ColdFusion 5 and about Neo. Where do you see AbleCommerce going in the future?
Newling:
We've been talking with Allaire about the future and how we can take advantage of where ColdFusion is going with our products. We're doing a substantial push internationally. Version 3.0 of AbleCommerce has numerous international features, including a multitier tax structure, the integration of international formats, and multicurrency display to appeal to the international markets. AbleCommerce has 14 international offices: UK, Japan, Greece, Turkey, Malaysia, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Chile, The Benelux, Hungary, Norway, Spain, Singapore, and Mexico - all local offices serving local markets. Quite a few of these are seed markets, where we're investing in building an e-commerce infrastructure because we know they'll grow. We know that they're maybe two, three, or as many as five years behind us, but we anticipate that they're going to catch up fast and build e-commerce much faster than we did here. So in addition to some phenomenal developer- targeted products carrying the AbleCommerce CommerceBuilder and AuctionBuilder product lines forward, we will continue to strengthen the international offering and build on the commerce service provider market.

CFDJ: What plans are there to WAP or wirelessly enable future versions?
Newling:
One of our partners, The CyberGroup, has a plugin that enables full wireless interaction with our software from the administrator side. Through this resource, AbleCommerce merchants can check the status of orders and inventory, while customers can order via their wireless connection. Similar features are available for AuctionBuilder, enabling bidders to receive notification if they are outbid or if they win an auction. Future releases by AbleCommerce will integrate this technology, either as a plugin or directly within the software.

CFDJ: We're definitely looking forward to that. And if people want more information?
Newling:
Visit our newly redesigned Web site at www.ablecommerce.com.

More Stories By Robert Diamond

Robert Diamond is the founder and editor-in-chief of BroadwayWorld.com, the premiere theater site on the net now receiving over 100,000 unique visitors a day. He is also the owner of Wisdom Digital Media - a leading designer of entertainment and technology web sites. He is also the lead producer on BroadwayWorld.com's consistently sold-out Joe's Pub concert series, and Standing Ovations benefit concerts. Diamond was also named one of the "Top thirty magazine industry executives under the age of 30" by Folio magazine. Robert holds a BS degree in information management and technology from the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University. Visit his blog at www.robertdiamond.com.

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