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.”

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