On-line shopping for all, urges think-tank
Monday 15 December 1997
Susan wants someone to look after her children for the afternoon, so she switches on her interactive TV and goes to the childcare page where she can select a police-vetted childminder.
Before she goes out, however, she needs to mow the lawn, so she turns to another page which informs her of mowers to hire nearby, the cheapest rates and availability of delivery.
Meanwhile, up the road in Stockport, three coach drivers have got together to lease a 52-seater bus which they operate around the Manchester area. Potential passengers can book tickets through their computer where the drivers advertise the times of journeys.
Sounds like an impossible dream? According to the think tank Demos this could all become reality in the next couple of decades as teleshopping becomes the norm.
Next autumn, British Interactive Broadcasting, part owned by Rupert Murdoch's News International, launches in Britain offering fully-fledged home shopping at the touch of a button. However, Demos argues that the Government must help set up what it calls "guaranteed electronic markets" [GEMs] or "people's marketing" which will ensure that the disadvantaged are not excluded from this trading revolution. At present, teleshopping stands to benefit big companies with well known brands, large databases and the funds to afford the steep start-up costs.
GEMs, however, would be set up as a collaboration between the Government and the private sector, establishing a central computer running thousands of "marketplaces" - like teleshopping systems in which anyone can buy or sell.
The GEM would include a standard contract to make deals such as hiring a childminder or buying a ticket legally binding, and would make sure that people had been vetted.
For example, when Susan wants a childminder she would switch on her interactive TV and go to the childcare site. Selecting daycare, she specifies the time for which her two children need to be looked after. The system calculates the lowest price for that in her area.
All childminders registered have to have police clearance and have been vetted. Susan can look at how many times the carer has been hired, if there are any complaints made against her and at her qualifications. If Susan wants to hire the carer, she clicks on the contract page where a legally- binding contract is laid out.
The author of the report, Wingham Rowan, says that the Government, by setting up the GEMs, would prevent people becoming excluded from the benefits of electronic trading by opening up a huge marketplace for small business and sole traders.
"We stand on the brink of an electronic revolution as momentous as the information revolution," said Mr Rowan. "This could have huge social and economic costs unless steps are taken to include everyone - from the affluent and technologically literate to the marginalised and disadvantaged.
"Setting up GEMs offers new ways to harness electronic trading so that it provides benefits for everyone not just an elite. If the true economic and social potential of electronic commerce is to be liberated, government must play a leading role."
l Guaranteed electronic markets: the backbone of a twenty first century economy? by Wingham Rowan is available from Demos, 9 Bridewell Place, London EC4V 6AP, pounds 14.95 plus 60p p&p
- 1 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 2 Watch: Man takes selfie every mile of 2,600 mile hike, creates amazing timelapse video
- 3 The day I starred in Only Fools and Horses
- 4 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
- 5 Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories
Germanwings captain Patrick Sondenheimer tried to break into locked cockpit door 'with an axe' as plane was descending
Saudi Arabia says it won't rule out building nuclear weapons
The battle for the Middle East's future begins in Yemen as Saudi Arabia jumps into the abyss
Jeremy Clarkson 'could be given minder' ahead of a potential Top Gear return
#FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Revealed: Putin's army of pro-Kremlin bloggers
Germanwings plane crash: Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz wanted to 'do something people would remember him for'
Andreas Lubitz: Knee-jerk reaction to 9/11 enabled mass murder
£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...
£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...
£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...