Partnering Up

By eweek  |  Posted 2006-05-01 Print this article Print

The two companies have done some joint marketing and customer outreach. For Campmor, working with multiple partners has allowed the retailer to get the specific expertise it needs for its newest efforts, while maintaining a long-term relationship with its original systems integrator.

Tachyon gets exposure to new customers, and IBM/iPhrase has the opportunity to use real-world experience to aid its product development. Tachyon even has started a search practice as a result of the work that they did together on Campmors Web site.

"Tachyon was great because we had been certified to run on various elements of IBMs stack, but Tachyon had done countless DB2 and WebSphere implementations," said Frazier. "Nothing replaces field experience for creating successful partnerships and making products more robust over time."

Read here about IBMs DB2 giveaway. Having tamed the wilds of Campmors e-commerce needs, Tachyon and IBM/iPhrase continue to blaze new trails, making the technology wilderness much more accessible to new and current customers.

Campmor has come a long way by allowing multiple partners to work together to tackle specific challenges. When the company launched its initial Web presence back in 1995, it viewed this initial effort as an extension of its customer service efforts rather than as a sales opportunity, said Eychler.

"By 1997, we realized that people would buy online and put [data into] a simple Perl script form that did stuff," Eychler said. "Then we realized that the Web had the potential to be a good marketing channel for us."

The company aligned itself with Tachyon nine years ago, after searching for a partner with strong experience in using and supporting the IBM products that it had decided to use to build and maintain its e-commerce efforts, said Eychler.

There was an instant connection.

"Campmor is a small family-run business," said Eychler. "Tachyon seemed to be a smaller business as well, and we thought we would get better personalized service from them rather than going with a large firm where we would just be another number."

Tachyon built the initial site using IBMs Net.Commerce. "It was a fairly robust site and accounted for about 6 percent of Campmors revenue," said Lewis.

Tachyons close ties to IBM—which give Tachyon employees quick answers and large-scale resources at the company—have been an important part of the long-term success of the TachyonCampmor alliance.

For example, Tachyon has leveraged one of IBMs Virtual Innovation Centers to receive the earliest available information about planned upgrades that might affect Campmors site and training to ensure that upgrades and other transitions go smoothly. IBM also made sure that Tachyon and Campmor had direct access to developers when necessary.

Lewis points to a major upgrade the company did 18 months ago, going from IBMs WebSphere 4.1 (which is coded in C++) to WebSphere 5.4 (which is in Java)—a job that required completely rewriting the Campmor Web sites highly customized code.

"We were concerned that we do it right and that the database migration go flawlessly," Lewis said. "When we went live, we were down for only about a half hour, which was incredible."

With the combined power of Tachyon and IBM, Campmor anticipates drawing in new markets and purchasers with a wide and well-marked trail that will bring more and more customers through their virtual doors.

Hailey Lynne McKeefry is a freelance writer based in Belmont, Calif. Contact her at

Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on technologys impact on retail.


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