RealTime IT News

Cable & Wireless, GUS to Offer Services for E-Tailers

[London, ENGLAND] Telecom giant Cable & Wireless announced Thursday an alliance with Reality, the logistics arm of Great Universal Stores (GUS), to create a one-stop shop service for European e-tailers.

The two partners will offer a wide range of e-commerce services, including Web hosting, Web design, customer relationship management, online credit verification and home delivery.

Martin Trees, chief executive of Reality, said that the two companies had together identified that no one was offering what he called "a complete, high quality, one-stop e-business service to e-tailers."

"We realized we could provide everything a company needed to trade online besides the technical infrastructure to make it happen," said Trees.

"The partnership with Cable & Wireless was a natural step in that it bridged the physical and virtual worlds by adding technical depth and infrastructure to our massive breadth of e-commerce and back-end services," Trees continued.

The alliance, claimed Trees, would sweep away the barriers commonly faced by e-tailers, such as fragmented service provision and a lack of consistent, high-quality infrastructure.

In Europe, the market for services to e-tailers is estimated to be worth more than US $10 billion within the next five years, according to the companies behind the new venture. It is driven, they say, by rapid growth in the business-to-consumer e-tail market, which is expected to reach "at least US $100 billion within five years."

The optimism surrounding the launch is wildly at variance with reports earlier this week of B2C being "in a wipeout phase," (see: uk.internet.com). It does, however, strongly support the idea that present layoffs are only temporary and the sector will bounce back when established retailers bring their experience to bear on e-tailing.

"This is the first time any global telecommunications company has partnered with a blue-chip Internet services company to address this exciting new market on a large scale," said Mike McTighe, chief executive, Global Operations, Cable & Wireless Global.

Services will commence before the end of 2000, hosted at Cable & Wireless's new hosting center in the U.K. Trialing them initially will be hot-orange.com, a Dutch e-tailer of toys, perfumes and computers (these are the top three sections on its current site) that already has "pan-European ambitions."