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Tesco Claims 1500 Online Orders Per Hour

[London, ENGLAND] U.K. supermarket chain Tesco says it is taking over 1500 online orders per hour at peak periods, yielding turnover of £5 million (US $7.25 million) per week and making it the world's largest grocery home shopping business "by far."

Helping Tesco cope with the increased business is a new system called TIS 2000, developed in partnership with e-commerce consultancy IVIS Group. The system is designed to improve online response times for customers -- a key factor in online grocery shopping.

"Since the relaunch of Tesco.com two months ago, customer response times have halved and pure online revenues have doubled," said Mike McNamara, Tesco.com's chief technology officer.

Although the changes to the site are largely invisible to the customer, programmers have re-engineered the site, introduced asynchronous XML processing, and restructured the basket management process. As a result, the whole site is faster and its capacity to handle traffic has been increased.

Qusai Sarraf, chief executive of IVIS Group said that as e-commerce traffic reaches unprecedented levels on sites like Tesco.com, the Web infrastructure industry is faced with new challenges.

"Because the volume of traffic through Tesco.com is so high we've had to think out of the box and innovate to keep their Web engineering one step ahead of customer demand," he added.

Technical matters aside, many grocery items remain more expensive on the site than they are in the store -- but in the U.K., grocery shopping online is deemed to be akin to convenience shopping at stores which stay open long hours and charge higher prices.

As well as online shopping, Tesco runs one of the most successful ISPs in the U.K., and sells (rather than gives away) start-up disks at checkouts in its 646 U.K. stores in the U.K. and 75 in the Republic of Ireland. Recently, Tesco put US $18 million into U.S. women's site iVillage for a U.K. adaptation.