Virgin Megastores plans to roll out in-store Internet cafés in up to 20 of its outlets next year.
The Internet café concept, called Virgin Space, is being tested in Virgin Megastores located in Oxford and Leeds. Each store contains more than 40 Internet terminals with a number ear-marked as express kiosks, used for e-mail and faxing only, and the remainder used for Internet surfing.
Customers have to register as members by paying &£6. For this, they get a period of free Internet time and a membership card which records personal preferences such as favourite sites and music taste. These preferences are activated when the card is re-inserted into a Virgin Space machine so that consumers are able to easily access the sites again as well as others which relate to their musical tastes.
Terminals areas will each have light controls, a service and help button similar to those on airlines, video e-mail and a choice of music to play while “surfing”.
“Virgin Space capitalises on the synergy between Internet use and purchasers of music and entertainment products,” says managing director Andy Randall.
Virgin Megastores has 95 stores nationwide with a new store due to open in Camden, north London, early next year.
The chain launched a rebranding campaign in November focusing on consumers’ “passion for music”, a departure from the usual price-led campaign (MW November 2).