Fri, Nov 28, 2003 - Page 10 News List

Eastern adopts MS e-commerce platform

By Jessie Ho  /  STAFF REPORTER

Eastern Home Shopping Network (東森購物) announced yesterday that it will adopt Microsoft Corp's e-commerce platform starting February next year to expand its online retail business.

"We have great expectations for our online store, and we hope the Web site will become the largest virtual store for the Chinese community in the world," Eastern president Jennifer Sung (宋湘嵐) said at a signing ceremony yesterday.

As more consumers choose to shop at virtual stores, Eastern is forecasting that the collaboration with Microsoft will bring NT$2 billion in sales during the first year of launching, Sung said.

With the Microsoft e-commerce platform, Eastern is able to expand its online shopping portal from computer to personal digital assistants (PDAs) and mobile phones, said Microsoft Taiwan general manager Eunice Chiou (邱麗孟).

Besides the shopping features the Web site offers, the new version will have improved online customer self-help services, such as shipment-tracking, Chiou said.

"I believe the solution provided by Microsoft will create a speedy and convenient shopping environment for consumers," Chiou said.

Eastern launched its online business at the end of 1999. With business interests including TV, Internet, catalogues and broadcasting, the company forecasts annual sales of NT$20 billion by the end of this year, compared with NT$500 million in 2000 and NT$7.2 billion last year. Currently, its TV shopping channel contributes about 85 percent of total sales, Sung said.

The small percentage the online store earns makes the company believe that there is still huge room for the sector to grow, despite the meltdown of the Internet bubble that discouraged many e-business investors and operators, Sung said.

"The business model is still full of potential -- as long as the right strategy is employed," Sung said. "Quality service is the key."

Sung indicated that most consumers refuse to conduct online shopping because they are dubious of goods they cannot touch, so Eastern provides a 10-day free trial, free delivery and free return for all products.

"The policy works well ... customers know they don't have to worry about anything even if they buy the wrong thing or unsatisfied products ... that's why we garnered 1.5 million members so far, and sell things that other online retailers don't, such as air conditioners or fitness equipment," Sung said.

Eastern executive assistant to the chairman Kevin Chen (陳彥豪) pointed out that MSN Messenger may become the company's next powerful sales tool.

"It's an instant and interactive medium, which allows us to market and offer information based on their user profile," Chen said.

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