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Smith Micro Internet Solutions Division's WebCatalog Brings E-Success To Montana Electronics Chain

Mar 06, 2000
Vanns.com Has Become Chain's Top-Grossing 'Store' with Minimal Technical Effort

Aliso Viejo, CA - The Internet SolutionsDivision of Smith Micro Software, Inc. (Nasdaq: SMSI) announced today that itsWebCatalog web publishing solution has enabled Vann's, a seven-storeelectronics chain in Montana, to quickly and inexpensively establish athriving e-business that now out performs the company's top-producingbrick-and-mortar store in gross sales.

"WebCatalog made it possible for us to build our Internet business intowhat it is today with less time and effort than would have been required withany other tool I've seen, and we have been able to do it in the Macintoshenvironment we prefer," said Tim Christensen, technical director for Vann's."Most companies have to spend a huge amount of money on outside consultantsand extra staff to create and implement their eCommerce strategy, but withthis product, I have been able to handle the entire project myself."

The original Vanns.com site took only six weeks to create, despite thefact that it was Mr. Christensen's first experience with WebCatalog.Subsequent rewrites to the site have been completed in as little as threedays, producing a robust site that now sells more than 500 name-brand audio,video and computer hardware and software products.

Using WebCatalog's dynamic publishing capabilities, each page of the sitepulls pricing and inventory from Vann's Oracle-based point-of-sale datawarehouse and aggregates it with promotional copy and specificationsmaintained in a separate FileMaker Pro database. Both databases are exporteddirectly to WebCatalog without the need for manipulation. When a user pointsand clicks, data from both sources is merged and sent to the page virtuallyinstantaneously because WebCatalog stores all data in RAM memory for rapidretrieval.

WebCatalog's open architecture has enabled Vann's to integrate onlinetransactions with its legacy retail point-of-sale system and with UnitedParcel Service's system, making it possible to automatically print outshipping labels from a UPS server at Vann's headquarters in Missoula, Montana,whenever an order is placed.

The product has also allowed Vann's to regionalize pricing and promotions,serve up special pricing levels to customers with corporate accounts, attachpromotions to specific SKUs, and generate and send coupons to specificcustomers with just a few lines of code. WebCatalog also made it possible forVann's to create custom data feeds for marketing partners like Alta Vista,CNet and BizRate.com in minutes.

In addition, Vann's has used WebCatalog to create a back-end applicationthat manages the company's busy online auction operation as well as itsinternal call center. The application automatically plans, uploads andmanages fulfillment for hundreds of online auctions every week, enablingVann's to submit overstocked and high-volume items to eBay and other onlineauction houses at pre-defined times. WebCatalog also powers an on-screencustomer help system that integrates auction, online and phone orders,allowing Vann's phone representatives to efficiently answer questions andresolve problems throughout the customer lifecycle.

Vanns.com uses Macintosh workstations for development and Macintosh-basedWebSTAR servers for hosting, reflecting WebCatalog's support for all majorplatforms.

"Vann's is taking full advantage of WebCatalog's ability to deliver allthe power of high-end programming products at much lower cost and without theneed for a highly skilled programmer," said Chris Lippincott, General Managerof the Internet Solutions Division of Smith Micro Software. "The ability todefine business rules, write very simple code similar to HTML, perform time-based actions and generate content dynamically makes it possible to build andmaintain very sophisticated sites with minimal effort."

WebCatalog is a comprehensive eCommerce and web publishing toolkit thatincludes a dynamic web publishing engine, a built-in database that is designedto optimize retrieval speeds, and industry-standard support for ODBC toconnect to other database engines such as Microsoft SQL Server. It isadministered entirely over the web, enabling users to make new informationavailable on their web sites immediately. It permits development anddeployment on Windows 95/98/NT/2000, Macintosh or UNIX platforms and workswith existing web servers.

About Vann's
Founded in 1961, Vann's is a Montana-based electronics chain with sevenstores throughout the state. The company is the largest independent retailerin Montana. The Vann's online store is located on the Web athttp://www.vanns.com.

About Smith Micro
Headquartered in Aliso Viejo, California, Smith Micro is a leadingdeveloper and marketer of Internet and communications software. The companyprovides powerful solutions for Internet commerce, including its WebCatalogsolution for eCommerce and dynamic Web publishing. The company also designsintegrated, easy-to-use software that enables fax, data, voice and videocommunication to personal computer users around the world. Smith Microproducts are available through direct sales, retail stores, value-addedresellers (VARs) and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). Smith Micro'scommon stock trades on The Nasdaq Stock Market® under the symbol SMSI.For more information, contact Smith Micro at 949-362-5800.

For more information on Smith Micro Software, via fax at no charge,
please call 1-800-PRO-INFO and enter ticker symbol SMSI.

This release may contain forward-looking statements that involve risks anduncertainties. Among the important factors which could cause actual resultsto differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements areeconomic, competitive, governmental and technological factors affecting thecompany's operations, markets, products, services and prices, as well as otherfactors detailed in the company's filings with the Securities and ExchangeCommission including its recent filings on Forms 10-K and 10-Q.

Smith Micro, the Smith Micro logo and WebCatalog are trademarks orregistered trademarks of Smith Micro Software, Inc. All other trademarks andproduct names are the property of their respective companies.

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