The WorldWide Retail Exchange (WWRE), the retail e-marketplace, today announced that it has completed a series of online pilot auctions that successfully demonstrated the company's technology and positioned it to begin a more permanent and comprehensive schedule of auctions.

"We are now operational," said newly appointed WWRE CEO Colin Dyer. "What started out as an idea only six months ago is now up and running, saving money for retailers, suppliers and customers. We are truly moving at the speed of the Internet."

The pilot auction program consisted of three auctions hosted by individual retailers and two collaborative indirect auctions hosted by several member companies. In all five auctions, suppliers from around the world were able to bid online for contracts on items ranging from corned beef to office stationery.

The auctions were the first live tests of the WWRE's new technology. In June, the WWRE announced a partnership with IBM, Ariba and i2 to provide the technology platform for the Exchange.

US-based Target Corporation conducted the third and final individual auction August 23. The one-hour auction to provide plastic clothes hangers attracted seven suppliers.

"The Exchange helped us realize significant savings," said Tim Curoe, director of B2B at Target Corporation. "With petroleum-based product prices at a 10-year high, the rising price of plastic hangers had us concerned. But with the online auction we were still able to realize a saving."

The WWRE (www.worldwideretailexchange.org) is a web-based business-to-business exchange designed to facilitate and simplify trading between retailers and more than 100,000 suppliers, partners and distributors. Consisting of leading retailers from Africa, Asia, Europe and the United States, the WWRE is open to all suppliers and retailers who wish to use it. To date, the WWRE currently includes members who have combined sales of $553bn or Euro 614bn.

Today, WWRE membership includes: Gap Inc (U.S., NYSE: GPS), J.C. Penney (U.S., NYSE: JCP), Marks & Spencer (U.K., LSE: MKS), Seibu Department Stores Ltd (Japan), Target Corporation (U.S., NYSE: TGT), Tesco (U.K., LSE: TSC.OL), Woolworths (Australia, ASX: WOW) and Wooltru Ltd (South Africa, JSE: WLO).