RealTime IT News

WorldNet Places Holiday Faith With Inktomi

AT&T WorldNet Service officials hope its deal Monday with Inktomi Corp. will avoid a repeat of last year's industry-wide holiday e-commerce letdown and net the Internet service provider a large percentage of this season's expected $11 billion online spending frenzy.

Using Inktomi's Commerce Engine, WorldNet customers will be able to surf the company's e-commerce site, dubbed Market Square, free from the worry of slow download times and unfulfilled orders.

Despite an overall satisfaction rate of 90 percent among 1999 online shoppers, according to a Jupiter Communications report, only 35 percent said the experience was positive enough to encourage them to buy more in 2000.

Ed Chatlos, AT&T WorldNet Service vice president and general manager, said the Inktomi solution solves the problems people experience when online traffic picks up.

"AT&T is committed to providing our customers with a positive online shopping experience during the holiday season," Chatlos said. "The services provided by Inktomi enabled us to deliver a complete online shopping experience that can accommodate our increased holiday traffic."

Inktomi's commerce solution is a network of more than 250 merchants participating in its program. The appliance keeps track of billing and reporting, targets opt-in email marketing tools and sports a new search function for an advanced compilation of the millions of products offered.

It's a product WorldNet officials are pinning a lot of its e-commerce hopes, with a gradual shift from traditional bricks-and-mortar companies to Internet shopping accounting for an expected 6.3 million shoppers this holiday season. That's a 294 percent increase from last year's visitors, according to Jupiter.

Ken Cassar, Jupiter Communications senior analyst, said the shift also reflects the average customer's evolution in spending habits, from the three staples of online shopping (books, music and toys) into clothing and shoes.

"Consumers are likely to purchase clothing and shoes online this holiday season because they are both desirable gifts, and this year, a greater number of sites are offering a large selection of brand-name apparel," Cassar said.