UK: Lastminute.Com - The Best Reason To Shop Online

Last Updated: 19 October 1998
UK-based Company Introduces Internet Shopping Service That Finally Gives UK Consumers A Reason To Get Excited About Online Shopping

The Last Minute Network launches today and is the first site in the UK to offer premium products from travel, entertainment and present suppliers. To date, Internet shopping hasn't taken advantage of what the medium can offer - lastminute.com gives customers prices that are not available elsewhere, with live availability and a totally electronic booking process.

lastminute.com fulfills a real need from suppliers of premium products for a mechanism to sell off outstanding inventory at precisely the point that they know it will go unsold through traditional routes. On the other hand, consumers get access to fantastic value offers from five star quality companies.

"While working in other areas of the online business world, I saw a gap in the marketplace for a service like lastminute.com and began developing the concept. Previous experience at setting up online companies in the UK has shown me that UK consumers are ready to take buying online seriously if they are given compelling reasons: price, choice, selection and convenience," commented Brent Hoberman, Last Minute's managing director. "We take advantage of the Internet's immediacy to give people the best possible up-to-the minute offers, and we guarantee that they won't be able to get these anywhere else at a lower price. Now that's compelling."

The site also features a special surround video auction area built by Intel. Bidding will kick off with an auction for one of the most desirable hotel suites in the UK with all the Spa treatments you can pack in included in the price.

The travel section breaks into flights from scheduled carriers, rooms at luxury hotel chains and country house hotels as well as tailor made breaks. Entertainment is in collaboration with the top ticket vendors and covers all the main music, theatre and sporting events in the UK and overseas (you can put together travel packages on lastminute.com for these international trips) as well as gigs and plays at all the main regional venues. Gifts fall into categories of when they can be delivered - today, tomorrow and within the next few days - and lastminute.com makes it easier to give interesting, entertaining and fun presents when time is running out....

Formed in April this year by directors Brent Hoberman and Martha Lane Fox, Last Minute Network currently has ten staff under the age of 30. At the outset, significant venture capital was raised from a variety of backers including Arts Alliance and France Telecom's venture fund. After its initial launch promotion with Yahoo! UK, Alitalia and Virgin Atlantic, lastminute.com has established exclusive relationships with major national scheduled airlines including Lufthansa, British Midland and Air NZ; hotel chains such as Sheraton, Swallow, Thistle and Elegant English; and shows from companies as diverse as the Really Useful Group, MCP Promotions, the Royal Festival Hall and the Welsh National Opera. Gifts will be supplied by a variety of online partners such as Amazon, Flowers Direct, Best of British and ChocExpress. Apollo Travel, based in Rotherham and part owned by Globus, are lastminute.com's fulfillment partner and will be handling customer service and ticketing.

DataCash, the UK's leading provider of e-commerce payment solutions, was selected to handle the realtime credit and debit card authorisation and settlement. Using DataCash customers can buy product securely straight from the lastminute.com site using their choice of credit or debit cards. Cards are authorised in realtime - to ensure sufficient funds are available and that it has not been reported stolen. DataCash's unique reporting interface allows lastminute.com's accounts department to review and reconcile sales, and process refunds. Though not all in use at the moment, DataCash provides lastminute.com with an unrivalled range of upgrades including full multi-currency trading and settlement, multiple simultaneous transactions, and integration into call centre CTI and IVR systems.

Gavin Breeze, managing director of DataCash commented:

"Security, speed, reliability, scalability, ease of integration, flexibility and price were the determining factors in lastminute.com's selection of DataCash as the payment gateway provider. The high volume of transactions already flowing through into lastminute.com's bank account is testimony to the excellent, creative marriage of technologies."

Marketing relationships with some of the best-known Internet brands in the UK inlcuding TimeOut, Virgin Net, Interactive Investor, Electronic Telegraph, Condé Nast and LineOne have also been built. The site expects over 3 million UK visitors over the next 15 months.

For further press information, contact:

Nicola Hynes/Dylan Watkins
Firefly Communications
Tel: 0171 381 4505
Email:  Click Contact Link / Click Contact Link 

Firefly can also provide spokespeople from a number of areas: pilot users; content partners; technology partners; venture capital backers and Brent Hoberman, managing director, and Martha Lane Fox, director, Last Minute Network.

About DataCash

DataCash Ltd specialises in providing secure e-commerce payment solutions, products and services. Formed in 1997 it has already established a market leading position in the rapidly developing e-commerce transactions market. Headquartered in London, DataCash has offices in Edinburgh and Jersey (CI). The company has strategic partnership agreements with Sun, Oracle, Microsoft, Netscape and IBM.

For more information please contact:

Gavin Breeze
DataCash Ltd
14 Bowden Street
London
SE11 4DS.

Tel No: +44 (0)171 632 0400
Fax No: +44 (0)171 820 0748
E-mail:  Click Contact Link 
URL:     Click Contact Link 

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