There's little doubt that many e-commerce businesses embrace open source applications such as OS Commerce. The problem is that using open source software isn't for the faint of heart as you need a certain level of technical expertise to deploy and manage these applications.
While you don't have to pay to use open source applications, providing the integration, implementation and maintenance for the servers hosting the "free" software can be costly and time-consuming.
However, there is a way to tap the cost-saving potential of open source applications without having to contract with a techie to get things up and running (and keep them running).
|Chat with your customers in real-time with Shine Live Help.|
iRadeon, a Roseville, Calif.-based company, specializes in providing best-of-breed open source applications as a service. That is, for a small fee (in comparison to many Web-based applications prices) you can subscribe to a suite of online applications featuring the popular SugarCRM as the star and the keeper of your customer data.
In a move to help you connect with your customers in real-time, iRadeon yesterday announced that it was adding Shine Live Help to the product mix. Shine Live Help is a GPL-licensed application for e-commerce shops looking to gain an extra edge with customers and prospects.
With the addition of Shine Live Help, iRadeon's AppPortal on-demand service plan now includes five open source business applications (CRM, live help, project management, eLearning, and knowledgebase) with prices starting at $60 a month for five users and ranging up to $180 a month for 20 users. This also includes automated backups, firewall protection, SSL encryption and 24/7 e-mail support.
In today's, whacky Web 2.0, Web services, integrated world, the capability to share data among disparate applications is becoming a key benefit. Using SugarCRM as the backend workhorse, iRadeon offers integration with customer-facing applications including OS Commerce's storefront and Mambo support Portal and, as of yesterday, Shine Live Help.
|Add and access customer info to your CRM application directly from Shine Live Help.|
"Businesses of all sizes are increasingly finding they must personally connect with customers and meet their needs in real time," said Jeff Minich, vice president of strategy for iRadeon. "Offering live Web help is a key element of getting this experience right."
In addition to extending Sugar Open Source CRM data to the live help experience, Shine also allows sales and support personnel to create new CRM records such as leads, cases, contacts and accounts directly from the Shine operator interface. This lets you capture information such as new sales leads or support cases, and easily manage it via CRM, improving customer service quality and increasing Web site sales.
If you're looking to see Shine in action, iRadeon uses the real-time application on its own Web site. According to the company, its 12 employees use the help service and its existing Sugar Open Source data to improve customer service. Integrating Shine and SugarCRM provides a complete view of each returning Web customer's entire account history as soon as live help session is initiated, the company said.
One of the benefits of using open source applications is that developers from around the world have access to underlying code and offer improvements, which are then passed along to the user and developer community.
To help spur that type of development effort, iRadeon also announced the launch of the Shine Code Prix open source code contribution competition. The Code Prix competition will reward open source developers with $10,000 in cash prizes for innovative contributions to the Shine Live Help project. The competition will begin this Friday and ends on March 11th.
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