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Distributor Ingram Micro Inc. has launched an e-commerce program designed to give VARs the tools and services they need to launch online storefronts, including connections to pricing/availability systems at vendor sites and the ability to transmit price quotes to end users electronically.

The Santa Ana, Calif.-based distributor this week gave the initiative a boost by partnering with two e-commerce companies.

The new partners are ASP development company Flashecom eCommerce Software Inc., based in Fullerton, Calif.; and Ingeniasoft Inc., an Irvine, Calif.-based developer of custom applications and e-business software.

Flashecom provides retailers and VARs with tools to launch and run online storefronts, while Ingeniasoft offers technology and services to automate business processes using Web applications, workflow software and other process-automation systems.

Justin Crotty, vice president of channel marketing at Ingram Micro North America, said the distributor, which does not sell directly to end users, is committed to giving channel companies access to affordable business-building services and support to help them become more competitive.

The two partnerships expand Ingram Micro’s ability to help VARs—especially those in the SMB (small and midsize business), government and education markets—build flexible e-commerce systems tailored to their own needs, Crotty said.

Ingram Micro launched its e-commerce initiative about a year ago when the distributor certified VARStreet Inc. as its first e-commerce partner.

Ingram Micro also offers VARs certification stating that its e-commerce partners provide what Ingram Micro considers to be the right mix of technology, services and cost for its VAR and solution providers customers.

The goal, say Ingram Micro executives, is to offer VARs a comprehensive mix of e-commerce configurations, services and pricing, ranging from low-maintenance turnkey ASP setups to self-hosted solutions that integrate with VARs’ existing back-office systems.

Each certified partner offers storefront pricing strategies that may include one-time setup fees, monthly subscriptions and support upgrades. As part of the certification, the distributor negotiates discounted fees for its VARs.

Only a small percentage of VARs have opened Web storefronts, even though the Internet has entrenched itself in commerce and other aspects of daily life, according to VARStreet co-founder and CEO Rad R. Sundar.

He expects that to change as more federal and state government agencies, as well as some corporations, issue mandates for IT suppliers to do business with them over the Web.

Ingram Micro executives said the distributor will continue to build its portfolio of e-commerce technology and services for VARs by enrolling more technology providers in the program.