Magazine article Marketing

Barclays Opens Door to On-Line Shopping

Magazine article Marketing

Barclays Opens Door to On-Line Shopping

Article excerpt

In the first 24 hours of Barclay Square, Barclays Bank's experiment in home shopping, 14,000 people had passed through its virtual doors.

What the bank can't say yet is how many of those people actually went on to buy anything. "It takes a few days to process the credit card transactions", says a Barclays spokeswoman.

Whatever the ratio of browsers to serious buyers, the launch of a UK electronic shopping service branded by a high-street bank is a new milestone in the development of what's becoming known as 'on-line direct marketing'.

Relationships are Barclay's focus

For Barclays, selling goods isn't really what the venture is about. Far more important is the relationship the new venture is helping to build between Barclays Merchant Services, the arm of the bank which processes credit card transactions, and the big retailers who are its clients. The project grew out of the need to offer customers added value if the bank is to grow its 40% share of that market.

For the retailers in the 'Square', all Barclays customers, it's a chance to experiment with on-line retail, with the advantage of a secure card-payment system, against the day when on-line ordering makes up a significant part of their business.

Today on-line shopping is still embryonic. A Harris survey conducted in February showed that, even in the US, only 7% of households have access to the Internet. A similar pool by Gallup showed that, even among those who have accessed an on-line service such as the Internet or Compuserve.

Despite that, millions have already been invested in the market - a sign of faith that it has potential. US-based Compuserve, one of the biggest commercial on-line services with 3 million members worldwide, has run its Electronic Mall since 1984. It now has more line orders grow by 50% in the past five years, making it one of the success stories of on-line direct marketing. …

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