Barclaycard has opened an online shopping mall in a £30 million joint venture with Nomura International.
The online mall, indigosquare.com has been opened in a bid to capitalise on an anticipated surge in consumer spending on the Web this Christmas.
The new portal differs from existing online shopping malls, says Barclaycard, in combining extensive choice, ease-of-use, a customer promise guaranteeing retailer standards and 24-hour, seven day-a-week customer service for inexperienced Web users. It will be supported by £10m of advertising and marketing in the first 12 months alone.
Mark Shea, newly appointed chief executive of IndigoSquare says: "IndigoSquare signals the real arrival of the new economy as a part of everyone’s daily shopping experience. Of the 17.5 million people on the internet in the UK, almost three and a half million are already shopping online; IndigoSquare has been designed to attract those shopping online now and to persuade the other 14 million to join them."
The site will be competing with the largest high street and out-of-town shopping centres, says Shea, with over one million products on offer from more than 50 retailers at launch and 100 by Christmas.
Emmanuel Roubinowitz, director of investment banking, Nomura’s Communications & Technology Group, says the bank's backing was guided by Barclays' brand value and extensive cardholder base. "We will also give guidance on financial and structural decisions, as well as on industry developments," he adds.
Vistors to the site will be able to buy from a selection of familiar brand-name goods and services from both existing retailers, as well as from newer online shops. The variety of products extends from a £275,000 wine collection to worms for the garden. By the end of next year, IndigoSquare has a target of five million products, 350 retailers and 500,000 users.
Storage and dissemination of customer and retail data is provided by Calleo's Content Management System software. The CMS tool has been installed to enable rapid product/price comparison for online shoppers.
Barclays' previous foray into the online shopping arena, Barclaysquare, failed to generate significant sales and was considered by most pundits to be ahead of its time. Barclaycard is pinning its hopes for its latest venture on a newfound enthusiasm among the general public for online shopping. The bank cites figures from retail consultancy Verdict, predicting online sales of £1200 million in the UK by the end of 2000, and £12.5 billion by 2005.