01 January 1999

Tesco, Toys ‘R’ Us and - almost certainly - W H Smith are following the free Internet trail blazed last October by Dixons ... Tesco has launched a free service for its 10m Clubcard holders. Its objective looks to be similar to that of Dixons - the creation of a vast instant market for the chain’s fledgling online home-shopping service. The launch follows trials to nearly 2,000 homes in London, in which customers shop via Tesco’s web site with orders delivered direct to their door. The site already registers 5m hits every month and Tesco’s aim is to make its entire range of 20,000 products available via the Net. This goal will be phased-in, starting later this year, with the launch of the Baby & Toddler Collection joint venture with Otto Versand-owned mail-order house Grattan. The debut will be followed by a series of other lifestyle collections and eventually extend to home banking, courtesy of Tesco Personal Finance. Connection to the service is simplicity itself: Clubcard-holders collect, or will be mailed, their connection packs and need only enter their name, address and Clubcard number to enjoy subscription-free Internet access.