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Retailers form Worldwide Exchange

Eleven retail giants in the US and Europe say they will form an Internet business-to-business marketplace called the WorldWide Retail Exchange.

The companies include five US chains: Albertson's, Safeway, CVS Corpand, Kmart and Target as well as French grocery retailers Auchan Group, Marks and Spencer PLC, Tescos and Royal Ahold NV, a grocery retailer in The Netherlands.

The businesses have more than 30,000 stores worldwide and had combined sales of $300 billion last year.

The exchange will begin operating in the middle of this year with the goal of improving trading among the retailers and their 100,000 suppliers. It will offer standardised item information and auction capabilities.

The companies anticipate an initial investment of $100 million over the first several years.

Antitrust suit filed against Sony

The national music retailing association in the US has filed a lawsuit against Sony, alleging that the company is illegally forcing retailers to direct their customers to Sony's online stores, where they can purchase CDs.

The lawsuit was filed by the National Association of Recording Merchandisers (NARM), a New Jersey-based trade group representing more than 1000 music retailers, wholesalers and distributors.

NARM's lawsuit charges that Sony is using software hyperlinks on its CDs as well as promotional inserts to force retailers to direct customers to Sony's retail businesses, which are competitors. The lawsuit charges that the hyperlinks are a violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act.

Industry analysts, however, said they don't think NARM's lawsuit has much chance of succeeding.

More retailers offer online shopping

The percentage of retailers selling merchandise over the Internet doubled from 1999 to 2000, according to a US survey of 159 retail executives and IT managers released at the recent Retail Systems 2000 conference.

The study, a joint effort by Computer Sciences and Retail Info Systems News, showed that 36.3 per cent of the retailers polled offer online shopping services, compared with just 17.8 per cent a year ago.

But the study confirmed that online shopping is still offered by only a minority of retailers.

Retailers' business-to-business efforts are also dragging, according to the new CSC/RIS News survey. Just 7.3 per cent of the retailers polled said they have built extranets to collaborate with trading partners, while more than half (57.3 per cent) conduct no business with trading partners via Web-based systems.


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