Major UK music retailers are to invest heavily in Web commerce to combat international companies using the Internet to threaten domestic markets.
The Virgin Megastores division of WH Smith is to launch what it described as "the world's largest entertainment store online" in the autumn.
This will sell the full range of products available at its massive London store by taking payments online and sending products via mail order. At some point the Our Price chain, another part of the WH Smith group, will also have an online commerce site, said Hinde.
HMV is setting up an email ordering service that will go direct to the established mail order department. Tower Records is also evaluating some form of online service in the UK.
In the US, the entertainment retail market has been one of the few certain successes of Internet commerce, with smaller players able to undercut established majors because they lack the overheads of a store network.
However, all the major music retailers in the US and UK are wary of threatening their existing business model. The Virgin Megastore site will charge the same prices as the London store but customers will have to add postage to the cost.
"It is about extending the channels that people can buy from," said Hinde.
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