High street's big names go on-line

BY NIGEL COPE

Some of Britain's leading retailers made their first foray into home shopping by computer yesterday. Now anyone with a computer, a modem and a subscription to the Compuserve on-line information system, can sit at home and buy wine from Tesco, books from WH Smith, CDs and videos from Virgin and hi-fi from Dixons.

Great Universal Stores and Interflora have also signed up.

The system is Compuserve's UK shopping Centre, an electronic shopping centre which allows shoppers to go on a spree without leaving their desk.

Compuserve, which has 100,000 subscribers in the UK, says it hopes to sign up a further 15 retailers this year. The launch comes in the same week as Sainsbury's began a scheme to sell wine on the Internet.

WH Smith has placed 250 books on the system but hopes to extend the offer to its entire 1500 range soon.

So far the range is restricted to "popular" titles such as Edwina Currie's A Parliamentary Affair and Vikram Seth's An Unsuitable Boy. Delivery costs £1.95 per order and takes around three to four days.

WH Smith's Allan Mitchell says: "It's really just another method of selling. It's a niche but the really exciting thing is that it will enable us to find out more about it;'s customers. WH Smith is also taking part in BT's pilot scheme in East Anglia this year that will offer books music and video down the telephone line.

Virgin, which is offering 500 music video and computer games on the system, says the system is a way of learning about the new technology.

Great Universal Stores, the mail order group, has compiled a collection of its sports wear ranges into a PC Sports "shop." Paul Harris, GUS chief executive of home shopping, says "We can and will create a number of niche "shops" or catalogues and offer them in this method. Home shopping is a seed that is going to grow."

GUS has an advantage over the other retailers on the Compuserve system in that it already has a sophisticated delivery network. WH Smith will either pop its books in the post or hire a courier.

One key difference between the Internet and Compuserve is the security of financial transactions. On the Internet, only users with the most recent software can be sure that their credit card details are not being hacked from the system.

Compuserve, which has been operating for 10 years in the United States, has well-established security systems and the company is also working on an encryption service to make it safer

One problem for retailers is that is difficult for them to differentiate themselves from each other. With no location advantage or flashy in-store designs, competitive advantage may only be secured on the basis of price and the efficiency of the delivery system.

A Tesco spokesman said: "At the moment we are the only retailer offering wine on the Compuserve system so it is not a problem. When we get more commotion we will have to look at ways to address it."

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
Sport
Rio Ferdinand returns for QPR
sportRio Ferdinand returns from his three-game suspension today
News
The Speaker of the House will takes his turn as guest editor of the Today programme
arts + ents
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
people

Watch the spoof Thanksgiving segment filmed for Live!
Sport
Billy Twelvetrees will start for England against Australia tomorrow with Owen Farrell dropping to the bench
rugbyEngland need a victory against Australia today
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of The Guest Cat – expect to see it everywhere
books
Sport
Tyson Fury poses outside the Imperial War Museum in south London ahead of his fight against Dereck Chisora
boxingAll British heavyweight clash gets underway on Saturday night
News
i100 Charity collates series of videos that show acts of kindness to animals
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Austen Lloyd: Company Secretary

Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: EAST ANGLIA - SENIOR SOLICITOR LEVEL ROLE** -...

Citifocus Ltd: German Speaking Client Specialist

£Attractive Package: Citifocus Ltd: Prestigious asset management house seeks a...

Citifocus Ltd: Performance & Risk Oversight

£Negotiable: Citifocus Ltd: This is a varied role focusing on the firm's mutua...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Sales Director - SaaS (SME/Channel) - £140,000 OTE

£90000 - £140000 per annum + benefits: h2 Recruit Ltd: Are you a high achievin...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game