US telecomms carrier MCI Communications is set to pull out of its second electronic commerce venture by the end of the month, citing poor consumer reaction to online shopping as the reason.
MCI?s 800-Music-Now electronic music retailing business will shut down on 31 December, just over a year after it was launched. The announcement follows last month?s decision to terminate MarketplaceMCI, a similar service that offered shoppers access to a virtual mall housing big name department stores.
An MCI spokesperson said the company would be shifting its emphasis to its long-distance telephone business and to other areas of the Internet market: "We are shifting our focus to investments that give us the biggest return," he said.
Department stores that used MarketplaceMCI, which included big names such as Nordstrom as well as specialist shops like The X-Files Store, have relocated to their own Web sites. Around 20 MCI employees have been reassigned within the company.
The 800-Music-Now service enabled customers to browse through a back catalogue of CDs and tapes as well as offering the chance to hear extracts from them before ordering any chosen piece of music over the Net. Traditional music sales in the US have been sluggish in 1996, with two of the main retailers, Wherehouse Entertainment and Camelot Music, declaring bankruptcy.
Despite MCI?s high profile defection, most studies of the US consumer market remain confident that electronic commerce remains a growth market. But the majority of market research also highlights the male dominance of the Net while women - seen as the main consumer targets - remain largely absent.
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