M&S to sign up supplier to run digital services

High-street clothing retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S) is on the verge of appointing a services company to host a new generation of...

High-street clothing retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S) is on the verge of appointing a services company to host a new generation of Internet, television, wireless application protocol (Wap) and kiosk shopping services.

Bill Goodwin

The deal, expected to be announced before the end of this month, forms a key part of M&S's strategy to become a prominent player in e-commerce.

M&S plans to use the hosting company to support a software platform that will integrate a wide range of electronic selling channels into single order processing system. M&S plans to have the system up and running by summer 2001.

Peter Robinson, head of e-commerce at M&S, said, "Customers will be able to transact across different media. They will be able to make a purchasing decision in one medium, and make the purchase in another."

M&S signed alliances with Microsoft Network's (MSN) Internet shopping channel, the BBC's beeb.com shopping portal, the satellite shopping channel Open, and Telewest's digital television service, last week.

The deals represent a major step forward by the retailer, which until now has only had a limited Web site and has focused its attention on catalogue shopping.

The retailer plans to have more than 3,000 products available on its Web site, which will be linked to the MSN and BBC portals, by Christmas.

It also plans to roll out in-store kiosks that will allow customers to search for products and place orders electronically.

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