It’s about the stupid products!

According to the US Department of Commerce, consumers spent more than $194 billion online in 2011. With this kind of spending, it’s no surprise that small businesses are moving some or all of their activities online.

Starting your own online business is an exciting time with many opportunities and opportunities. You have to choose the type of products you want to sell, the design of your website, coupons and discounts you can offer, and more. Creating and managing an online business is hard work, and the heavy burden can be overwhelming. Ecommerce software is designed to make opening and running an online store as quick and hassle-free as possible.

This has fueled the impressive growth of hosted ecommerce software companies over the past several years. Hosted solutions provide everything you need to convert a business website into an eCommerce web store without any technical or design skills.

This type of application should help you register a domain, design your website, upload and manage your inventory, connect to a shopping cart, and offer secure payment options to your customers.

You only need the inventory, and here lies a problem.

Product-centric small businesses have inventory, and for these businesses current software platforms are more than enough to add e-commerce components to an existing website or bring a brick-and-mortar business online.

However, for home businesses, these solutions are not enough.

At the end of July I attended the Online Retailer Conference and the E-Commerce Expo. After four days of presentations from industry thought leaders offering strategic insights and tactical ideas, I met a colleague from Siebel Systems who was intrigued by the approach of a Charlotte, NC-based company. The company is (, ) and to say it “flies under the radar” is an understatement. I have been unsuccessful in contacting the company but according to their website they are in “beta” testing and will be live later this year.

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Apparently, the company integrates shopping cart software, online store builder tools with web-based multi-channel merchant ERP software. Why is that important? This platform allows businesses to not only create an online store, but to sell products without sourcing, managing or maintaining inventory. It works by providing merchants with a hosted ERP platform to upload their product inventory to a consolidated catalog in the cloud. Web shops, in turn, select products from this catalog to list them on their website, and their customers can checkout without being redirected to a third party. It’s built for web stores that look and feel like a traditional ecommerce store that hosts inventory on-premises.

Soccer moms, college students and the like… the promise of cashing in on the internet could be just around the corner.