The next wave of entrepreneurs may not give a hoot that customers aren't beating a path to their door. Or so Internet company Netscape Communications Corp., in Mountain View, Calif., is betting as it launches products for would-be cyberpreneurs to set up shop without doors or walls -- or even geography.
We're talking virtual selling. Netscape is marketing a one-stop Internet product called IStore that "is literally like a store by the side of the road," according to Deepak Puri, the company's director of product marketing. The IStore does everything a typical retail store does with one exception: the customer does not have to go there. The software displays merchandise, takes orders, does on-line credit-card authorization and back-end billing, and even creates sales journals.
It consists of a commerce server, a database for tracking, and application software to create Web pages. As an added incentive, Netscape will provide the Internet equivalent of a roadside billboard, listing a company's store on Netscape's home page. The price tag: $20,000, plus consulting services.
IStore is part of Netscape's move beyond browsers into higher-priced Internet applications. Netscape, which became a household word this summer with its record-breaking initial public offering, plans in 1996 to introduce a Windows 95 server that's expected to sell for less than $500.
-- Wendy Marx* * *