Two online directories were launched this week, in a bid to capture some of the huge shift to Internet shopping recently predicted by analysts.
The services are designed to make Web shopping easier for customers by housing links to all the online shops in one place, so visitors can search for their designer labels, organise a family holiday and buy the week's groceries without trawling around the supermarket aisles or need numerous different search engines.
Enterprise City (www.enterprisecity.co.uk) pictures a cartoon-style high street as the centre of its Web site, with two columns entitled 'What is Enterprise City?' and 'Finding the stores'. The former explains what Web shopping is all about, and the latter describes how you can splash your cash. Hot links include Diesel, Argos and the Wallace and Gromit shop.
In complete contrast to the colour and graphics of Enterprise City, Lycos' site (www.lycos.co.uk/webguides/shopping) is set on a black background with a very formal list of hot links to each shopping site. Stores listed include Dixons, Tesco and Thomas Cook.
A recent survey from BT said that 40 per cent of all shopping in Europe will be carried out over the Internet by 2003. By then BT predicts that there will be eight million companies selling by ecommerce.
Unlike many directory sites which charge for their services, a listing on these two is free: "You can rest assured that this is the most comprehensive source of UK online shopping information anywhere on the web," claims Enterprise City.
Security has been one of the main reasons why Web shopping has not been a total hit with consumers, with fears of hackers accessing credit card numbers.
However according to Digital Fusion, the firm responsible for Enterprise City, "Security is of paramount importance. Each store has been checked to ensure it uses an encryption process to scramble customers credit card details."
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