Retail Solutions - Iceland extends multi-channel options for IT-savvy customers

Iceland is rolling out a flexible multi-channel solution, using Unipower Solutions transactional catalogue system to provide customers with more flexible e-shopping options.

CDs available in store provide the basic material for home shopping, allowing customers to build lists at home before going online to download the order, using either a home PC or interactive TV.

Tesco initially used this CD-format when it launched its home shopping operation in the mid-1990s, and argues that it is no longer relevant.

However, for home users with limited PC capability, shopping online can be a time-consuming chore as well as blocking the domestic phone line.

The new Iceland CD has the same look and feel as the Web site and uses innovative technology that enables the home PC to work effectively as a Web server, serving pages to itself rapidly just like the Web.

The system has speed search functionality and incorporates video footage, enabling broadband-style presentation in the home.

'The Internet hasn't delivered a user-friendly shopping experience,' said Unipower Solutions Europe chief executive officer Andrew Day.

'This technology effectively puts the Web site onto the user's PC and places the retailer's icon on the desktop. It also delivers a rich broadband experience for customers.'

The system is updated whenever users go online. Roll-out began last month and about 250 stores have been stocked with the CDs. Distribution is being handled by BT, which is also Iceland's Internet service provider.

As well as the Web site, Iceland customers can shop via Telewest or NTL channels. Unipower will announce a second customer for its transactional catalogue concept - this time in the mail order arena - in coming weeks.