As part of a two-year effort to enhance its online services for small businesses, KeyCorp has added electronic procurement.
The Cleveland banking company is using software from Pointspeed Inc., of San Mateo, Calif., to support the service, which will be marketed aggressively starting in January.
Other resources for small businesses include sales, marketing, accounting, and human resources services. These and other services were added through partnerships with companies including TeamOn, PrivateCo.com, Clicktactics.com for direct response marketing, Careersite.com for recruiting, and Econex, which specializes in Web site management.
Pointspeed will provide 24-hour service for KeyCorp customers through a call center that is to have 1,000 employees.
"We believe the challenges facing the small-business customer are, 'How do I use this technology?' and 'Is there someone who can help me get through this?' " said Mike Butler, vice chairman of Key Small Business.
Ariba Inc. provides $85 billion-asset KeyCorp with e-procurement software for its larger corporate customers, but, "We didn't feel comfortable with Ariba for small businesses," Mr. Butler said. "It is not specifically designed for small businesses" and "would fall woefully short of their needs."
Pointspeed's procurement system will offer discounts of up to 40%.
"If we see that our customers are getting poor service from a supplier, we can tell Pointspeed not to send customers to that vendor," Mr. Butler said.
Users can pay with credit cards or debit cards.
"Not everyone is ready to accept e-checks," said Ron Croce, chief operating officer of Pointspeed. "Why integrate them and offer them if 90% of vendors do not accept them?" he said. "We have plans to introduce them later."
Pointspeed itemizes purchase orders by individual vendor to minimize administrative hassles, Mr. Croce said. Customers receive one aggregate list of items and their confirmations and separate invoices from vendors.
The company also works with its partners to create marketing campaigns.
"We do test-marketing to figure out what the customer group is motivated by and then we fine-tune it and offer incentives," Mr. Croce said.
Eighteen-month-old Pointspeed has a handful of other banking clients, including Wells Fargo & Co. Digital Insight, a vendor of Internet banking software, recently teamed up with Pointspeed to offer its services to its clients.
Asked about his company's competitors, Mr. Butler said: "I don't get so concerned about what they are doing as much as what our businesses need. We are not a follower of other companies' products and services. Our service is built on what our customers asked for."