TIAS builds, hosts and manages e-commerce and ASP-based business
management solutions for a wide variety of clients and
industries. The TIAS Internet-based commerce solutions enable
B2B and B2C clients to safely and reliably cut e-business costs and
grow sales revenue. TIAS provides full-service, outsourced
e-commerce solutions including commerce site development and
hosting, online catalog systems, order management, inventory
management, shipping, costing, system integration, fulfillment,
e-marketing and customer service.
TIAS entered the Internet-based commerce
solutions market in April of 1995. Initially focused on the
$16 billion used products market, the company’s software offerings
have been expanded during the intervening 8 years to support the volume and
recurring sales markets. The company currently serves
customers in markets as diverse as software, textile products,
antiques, art, collectibles, jewelry and crafts.
TIAS is the only web-based vendor of catalog
systems to offer a complete store-management product.
Most online e-commerce stores (such as the Yahoo! Stores), are
catalog management systems. TIAS’ software base
extends seamlessly from catalog creation and order capture, through
inventory management, and warehouse management into end item
shipping. All TIAS software operates real-time, reporting
up-to-the second store results – sales, costs, inventory –
through the management dashboard system. All web-based software is
provided on an ASP basis – the user of the system is required to
make no investment in hardware or software beyond that needed for
their personal computer to communicate with the Internet.
TIAS provides a complete set of tools for
inventory management and distribution. The software product
allows users to easily and seamlessly upload inventory from their
e-commerce site to auction venues such as Yahoo! And eBay.
For the advanced user base, TIAS supports a rich
range of tools that range from products for offline inventory data
collection (with an eventual upload to the web) to a PC-based
shipping module that simultaneously works with major shippers such
as UPS, the USPS and the TIAS system to support high-volume
shipping. As with all TIAS software, results are reported
real-time, allowing customers to understand the moment their product
is shipped and giving management visibility into the productivity
and performance of the warehousing operation.
The TIAS software is designed to handle a high
volume of individually-identified items. The TIAS marketplace
for antiques and collectibles has grown into the single largest
catalog of antiques and collectibles on the Web. This, the largest
of the TIAS marketplaces, currently serves roughly 800 dealers and
is comprised of roughly 600,000 unique active items (SKUs). In
support of that single marketplace, TIAS serves approximately
100,000 unique visitors a day, an estimated 10 million page views
per month and 140 million hits per month.
Outstanding end-customer functionality and
unparalleled product variety result in traffic levels so high that
TIAS is consistently ranked in the top 200 retail e-commerce sites
on the Web by authorities ranging from PCDataOnline.com to Forbes
TIAS does not compete for transactions with any
TIAS community members and is a neutral participant in the
distribution process. The Company does not own any inventory
offered on the site and does not compete with any community
members. TIAS merely facilitates the processing of transactions
among the community’s members and the market.
TIAS currently has contractual agreements with eBay, Yahoo!, Google,
BuySellBid and Infospace to redistribute merchandise from the TIAS
system on their sites.
TIAS systems are approved by the US Postal
service and UPS to generate shipping labels, documents and to
automatically log shipments onto the carrier’s system.
TIAS has relationships with a variety of data
input houses, catalog distribution, mailing, and volume distribution
warehouse and TIAS software interfaces seamlessly to these vendors.
The TIAS community is supported by the leading-edge proprietary
TIAS software platform. This platform allows the use of “best of
breed” application software for the various functional areas such
as online ‘store’ creation, online ‘catalog’ maintenance,
data base management, transaction processing, logistics management,
off-system sales venue interfaces (such as auctions), credit
processing, secure credit-card transaction clearing, inventory
management, costing, shipping and management control. The TIAS
system allows businesses to create separately branded e-commerce
exchanges. Each exchange can consist of one or many multiple
vendors, each a separate business entity. While the most
common application of this is in B2C ‘malls’ that host multiple
‘stores’, the TIAS software is equally usable in the B2B context
such as wholesale distribution or member-based commerce exchanges.
The TIAS software is designed specifically
to address the needs of the market community that sells unique
items. Typical commerce systems are designed for the
mass market supplied by recurring manufacturing operations.
In the very significant market for surplus and used product, it is
common to find that each item offered for sale has unique
characteristics – whether the item is a rare antique, a lot of
surplus yarn or spare parts for a specific type of equipment.
Many items offered in this market are serialized and must be
identified by serial number or other unique identifier throughout
and after the selling process. Almost alone in the online
e-commerce community, TIAS offers a powerful set of features for
selling and managing this type of inventory.
TIAS interfaces directly to the nationwide
electronic clearing network through Verisign, enabling merchants to
process transactions through their merchant accounts.
Verisign provides payment connectivity over the Internet between
online customers, merchants, buyers, sellers, and the financial
networks that move money between them. TIAS employs the most
advanced secure software encryption technology to protect purchasers
and sellers throughout the purchasing process. User
names, passwords and transaction information is encrypted and
protected as a matter of course.
TIAS supports other participants in the Internet
e-commerce community with the publicly released FAST (Fixed-price
and Auction Simple Transfer) protocol. FAST is an
"open" XML based protocol that allows digital commerce
exchanges to "talk" to each other, exchanging inventory
and transaction information so that inventory can be offered to the
market. FAST is system-independent and is designed to allow
the TIAS inventory and commerce system to convey the status of
online inventory as it is changed on a real-time basis to another
(non-TIAS) inventory or commerce system. While there are many
possible uses of the FAST protocol, its primary application is to
allow merchants to list inventory on more than one distributed
computer system, whether two marketplaces within TIAS, one inventory
management system and a TIAS marketplace, or two marketplaces, one
on TIAS and one elsewhere.
Specific features of the TIAS system include:
ASP-model Web-based product: The TIAS system is designed for ASP-level usage. With the
exception of the PC based inventory-capture and shipping systems,
the product is completely web-based and requires no software
installation or maintenance on the part of the members, other than
the installation of a standard web browser. This gives
the members the benefit of state-of-the-art software without the
overhead or complexity of managing software development or hosting
agreements. TIAS members can create and manage their
online catalog or store, publishing content and receiving, managing
and shipping online orders with no investment other than that
required for a standard personal computer. TIAS has an enviable
history of new feature introduction and product enhancement,
ensuring that members always have ‘best of breed’ site features.
Custom-designed e-commerce exchange groups
(‘malls’): The TIAS system allows customers to build
out entire branded online commerce exchanges. Each exchange is
a discrete logical entity that offers customized store-building
services to its members. While the most common application of
this technology is to create virtual online shopping ‘malls’,
the feature is usable for any group of related commerce-based
Store building technology: Using TIAS’
proprietary, forms-based software, a member of an exchange can build
an online catalog or store in about 15 minutes. For a demonstration
of a sample implementation of this technology and more information,
Search technology: Each TIAS member
has its entire inventory available on the main page of the commerce
exchange to which it belongs. Each member also has it's own
individual search engine so the site's visitors can quickly find the
product or service they are looking for! The standard
search criteria can be tailored by exchange, allowing purchasers to
search by manufacturer’s product name, product category, SIC code,
contract number, company type, company name or other criteria
defined by the ‘owner’ of the e-commerce exchange.
Electronic Financial Interfaces: Buyers
are able to settle via purchasing cards and direct invoicing. TIAS
interfaces directly to the nationwide electronic clearing network
through Verisign, enabling merchants to process transactions through
their merchant accounts. Verisign provides
payment connectivity over the Internet between online customers,
merchants, buyers, sellers, and the financial networks that move
money between them. Verisign currently supports the following
The payment options offered TIAS merchants also
include interfaces to payment services such as PayPal, BillPoint and
BidPay as well as conventional money orders and checks.
Auction upload system: Each ‘store’
built in the TIAS commerce system has the ability to send inventory
directly to offsite sales venues such as online auctions. This
gives merchants the ability to sell items at auction as well as at
fixed price with all items listed under their own brand. TIAS
maintains agreements with all major off-site venues to ensure TIAS
malls and merchants the widest possible market for their inventory.
The FAST API: TIAS has developed and
supports the FAST data exchange protocol. This is an open XML-based
protocol that allows digital commerce exchanges to "talk"
to each other. FAST allows vendors to list unique items
in several sales venues, but to exchange information about sales and
inventory to ensure that a unique item is never ‘sold’ more than
once. The rich feature set allows sophisticated operations
like inventory reservation, release and commitment to occur without
incurring human overhead until those purchasing stages where
personal interaction is required.
Business Management features: the TIAS system offers each exchange member many sophisticated
business management features. The management dashboard
gives every member real-time insight into their online business –
open orders, month-to-date and year-to-date sales, inventory
position and inventory aging. The dashboard offers
access points to the key operational reports for the store.
Every report is designed so that high-level information is presented
first with successively more detailed levels of information are
revealed on request down to individual item and sales records.
Order Management features: The
TIAS system includes a complete operational toolset for accepting
orders, processing payments and communicating with customers.
State-of-the-art CRM features like the ability to send and file
customer e-mails for each order and real-time customer visibility
into order status reduce the cost of end-customer support while
improving customer satisfaction.
Inventory Management features: Sophisticated
tools for real-time inventory allocation during order processing,
inventory management and inventory analysis are among the key
features of the inventory processing subsystem that are included as
basic features for each on-line store.
Shipping: The TIAS software includes
tools for supply-and-demand evaluation, for creating warehouse
documents (such as pick tickets and invoices) and for performing
low-cost high-volume shipping. TIAS shipping software is
integrated with the order processing system (permitting the
immediate notification of customers after shipment), with the credit
processing system (orders are charged when the product is shipped,
not when the order is accepted), with the shippers (to obtain
tracking numbers and to request pickups) and with the management
reporting system (allowing real-time evaluation of the warehouse
Sales Reporting features: The
TIAS product includes ad-hoc reporting capability that allows
reporting and inquiry against each e-commerce entities historical
inventory orders database. Order history by customer, by
product / product group, by geographical area and by user-definable
reporting period are all standard system feature as are cost and
margin analysis tools.
Site promotion tools: In addition to
the standard features, TIAS provides a wide range of specialized
tools for site promotion. These include add-on options for
custom keyword tailoring for optimum search engine placement,
optional offsite links pages and site calendar/event features. One
of the most popular features for improving retail customer loyalty
– online coupons, discounts and specials has proven to pay for
itself on most sites in a single usage.
Mailing list: Each site is provided
automatically with a simple e-mailing list product, but the add-on
option for e-mailing list creation and management is unparalleled in
its class. Site owners can create general or highly
target mailing lists from prior orders, customer opt-in lists,
specialized name collection features (such as ‘ask a question’
or ‘request catalog’) and from purchased mailing lists.
Customer support: TIAS offers
comprehensive customer support to all TIAS members in utilizing the
TIAS solutions and services. TIAS customer support also serves
end customers by providing audit facilities that monitor and report
end-customer satisfaction levels to commerce exchange managers and
individual exchange members. TIAS software is interfaced
to external call-center products, allowing users of the TIAS system
to use external 7x24 call centers for capturing orders.
Hardware / Software Infrastructure
The TIAS database system runs on clustered Linux-based servers.
The architecture of the TIAS system is distributed and highly
scaleable. Additional servers can be easily added to the cluster,
increasing system capacity when required.
The TIAS physical computer systems are co-located
at Above Net’s world-class facility in San Jose California.
This arrangement enables TIAS to benefit from Above Net’s
direct-route backbone connectivity, huge bandwidth (122.4 Gbps),
optimal routing programs and excellent site physical security,
offering TIAS clients efficient, reliable and continuous
The TIAS software uses the open-source Linux
operating system and the mySQL database. The TIAS software
product is wholly proprietary.
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