Net retailers offered ‘back office’ package

Uunet Pipex, Europe’s largest direct Internet service provider, has launched a range of on-line shopping facilities to retailers and merchants, aimed at kick-starting the market for UK Net shopping.

Richard Nuttall, director of electronic commerce at Uunet Pipex, says the three-tier service, tied into the launch of a secure credit card transaction system for Internet use last week, is designed to take care of a major slice of the “back office” functions for electronic retailers.

Small-scale Internet merchants are being offered the DialStore service, with an upfront cost of 500 and a 9.5 per cent commission on each transaction.

Retailers using DialStore or the CornerStore and DirectStore systems for larger companies will still be required to arrange their own delivery of goods.

But the remainder of the trans-actional functions could be offered centrally by DialStore and its sister electronic retailing products.

Martin Wright, IS infrastructure manager at Sainsbury’s, says the retail giant has enjoyed some success in offering electronic retail-ing since launching its wine, flowers, and chocolate gift services last year.

But he strikes a note of caution over the likelihood of offering the on-line weekly grocery in the near future. Substantial problems remain in generating cost-effective methods of achieving order fulfilment and distribution and for large quantities of low-value grocery items, he says.

Concerns over the security of Internet-based payments remain a block to the growth of electronic commerce, according to US-based consultant Amos Kermisch.

Speaking at a conference on electronic marketing organised by the A Plus group last week, he said retailers who ignored developments in electronic retailing did so at their peril. Traditional retailers could eventually be wiped out as producers and new electronic merchants find ways of cutting overheads and attacking retail markets in many product areas.

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