CompuServe in first UK on-line shopping launch

CompuServe, the Internet access provider, is to launch the UK’s first fully-fledged on-line shopping service this month.

Virgin Our Price, PC World, Dixons, Great Universal Stores, Tesco, WH Smith, Interflora, Past Times and Innovations are among the retailers and mail order firms that have signed up for the scheme, which opens on April 27.

The service is a direct extension of CompuServe’s Electronic Mall, which has provided home shopping services in the US for the past ten years, says CompuServe UK Shopping Centre manager Paul Stanfield.

Security is ensured for on-line credit card transactions using CompuServe, he adds. “It is virtually impossible for a hacker to jump in and pick up credit card details because we are a proprietary service,” Stanfield claims.

This confidence springs from CompuServe owning the network and host computer, which enables it to closely police its use. In credit card transactions only the retailer and purchaser share information.

The US service carries 150 retailers, 40 per cent of which are available to international customers.

The UK service will be available free as part of CompuServe’s Basic Services to its 100,000 UK members and near 3 million members worldwide.

Other CompuServe Basic Services include AA Radowatch, PA News and The Hutchinson Encyclopedia.

* BT chairman Sir Iain Vallance last week called for firm and practical action by politicians to make the information superhighway a reality.