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Monday, July 26, 2004 - Page updated at 05:38 P.M.
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Information in this article, originally published July 26, has been corrected. A previous version of this story contained an error. Eric Best, co-founder and chief executive of Mercent, sold MindCorps, a previous company he started, to Amazon. A story in Monday's business section incorrectly identified the seller as his business partner Chris Morse.

Interface
Mercent aids retailers hooking up to Amazon


THE SEATTLE TIMES
Eric Best is CEO and founder of Mercent, a division of Morse Best Innovation. He leads about 30 employees.
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What: Mercent, a division of Seattle-based Morse Best Innovation, a marketing and technology-consulting company.

Who: Eric Best, founder and chief executive.

Employees: About 30.

What it does: Mercent makes Mercent Commerce Systems, software allowing retailers to integrate their technology into Amazon.com's format.

Why: Many retailers want to sell via Amazon but need help setting up a compatible online operation.

How it works: The software takes a retailer's computer systems and shapes it into Amazon's format to assist everything from orders and payments to inventory counts and customer tracking. That makes it faster for retailers to start selling on Amazon. The company also has services to make products easier to find on Amazon.com and to create online "storefronts" for vendors within Amazon's site.
 
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Customer list: The company has about 15 clients, including Wet Seal, Lucky Brand, Proflowers and The Shane Co.

Price tag: A typical software installation costs about $10,000. Marketing services are extra.

In almost no time: Installing normally takes less than 30 minutes and complete integration happens in less than a month.

Strategic partnerships: Mercent partners with Amazon for its sales platform and with Microsoft for product certification and the technology it uses to make its software.

How it began: Best, 32, was a student studying business administration and biology at Seattle Pacific University when he began consulting for Microsoft. After a short stint in immunology research, he took a job with the software giant, where he said he learned an MBA's worth of marketing. He left the company to start his own Web-site development firm, MindCorps, in 1996.

The Amazon connection: Best sold MindCorps to Amazon in 1999. A year later, he and Chris Morse founded Morse Best. He ended up collaborating with Amazon in late 2001 to help create a software-integration guide for third-party retailers. After that, he created software to do the work for retailers. His goal is to promote Mercent as a separate business brand and division of Morse Best.

What's in a name: Mercent is based on the word "merc" — the Latin root for anything related to selling and commerce.

Money matters: Morse Best Innovation is self-funded and has been profitable since its inception. The company's profits have been used to invest in more ventures such as Mercent.

What's next: "One of the challenges is how long do we maintain this as a self-funded, in-house company," Best said.

— Blanca Torres

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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