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AT&T announces end-to-end electronic commerce solution

[March 25th 1998]

AT&T is to provide businesses with an end-to-end electronic commerce solution. The company will offer the industry's first e-commerce package that includes Web site hosting, secure online transaction services, click-to-call technology and personalised consulting by phone to help businesses establish and commerce-enable a Web site.

"It's no longer enough for companies to have a Web site," said Gary Hickox, Global Marketing vice president, AT&T Networked Commerce Services. "Today's Web site browsers are increasingly willing to become online buyers. To make the most of their Internet investments, companies need to be ready to sell. Our e-commerce solution will give businesses all the tools they need to quickly turn a Web site into a powerful sales channel, complete with a way to securely process credit card orders and provide on-the-spot, personalised customer service."

In addition to hosting and personalised Web site consultation features, the AT&T ecommerce Suite offers businesses a way to give their customers a choice in how they complete their transactions. Customers have the option of speaking to a live customer service agent or making purchases via a secure, Web-based transaction service.

The AT&T ecommerce Suite includes the following features:

  • AT&T Easy World Wide Web(R) (EW3(R)) Hosting, which provides merchants with complete control over the design and content of their sites, and includes a domain name service with one vanity domain name, a Web site design tool, robust site usage reports, and customer care. It also provides bandwidth on demand, scaleable server capacity, and guaranteed network reliability.

  • AT&T Business Assist Program, which provides businesses with personalised Web site services assistance by phone. Trained AT&T consultants will help businesses develop and implement a Web site strategy, providing advice on everything from how to help customers easily navigate through the site to where to place click-to-call icons and catalogue pages. Consultants also will provide guidance on how to market the site, including how to register with search engines, create banner advertisements, use META tags effectively, and incorporate Web site strategies into traditional marketing plans.

  • AT&T SecureBuy(SM) Service, which is a sophisticated and secure Web transaction service. It includes a catalogue development tool, the back office infrastructure required to electronically process credit card transactions online, high-speed links to two of the leading credit card processing services, and management reports that measure a site's success. Security technologies include an encryption-protected server, secure socket layer technology and firewalls, as well as custom challenge questions that allow access to authorised users only. AT&T also provides private connections between the buyer, the Web site, and financial transaction networks.

    AT&T SecureBuy Service also offers merchants a digital couponing feature that allows them to offer shoppers instant discounts on one or more items purchased, as well as buyer-specific pricing options. Merchants also have access to detailed transaction reports that allow them to determine such things as sales by period, top-selling and least-selling products and current customer buying behaviour, making it easier for merchants to assess and direct the impact online transactions are having on their business.

  • AT&T interactiveAnswers(SM) Service, which combines the human element of live telephone conversations with the interactivity and information-sharing of the Internet. Requiring no investment in additional software or hardware at a company's premise, this network-based service lets Web site visitors click on a "call me now" icon if they wish to speak to a live customer service agent. A "whisper tone" alerts the agent that someone visiting the company's Web site needs more information. The AT&T network connects the two parties and allows the caller to ask questions.
The package of services will be available on May 1 for $695 a month, a 20 percent monthly savings over the price of these services if purchased separately. Customers also pay a one-time set-up fee of $500 and per-transaction charges for AT&T SecureBuy Service and AT&T interactiveAnswers Service, as appropriate.

"This offer provides businesses with a 'one-stop, e-commerce shop' solution," said Hickox. "Customers sign one contract for all the services, pay one monthly bill and call one number for customer care." The bill includes separate line items for each service, including usage charges.

"Consumers clearly want to have as many options as possible when visiting our site and deciding to make a purchase," said Scott Fox, general manager Internet Applications for The Sentry Group. "The new AT&T ecommerce Suite gives us all the Web site features we need to best serve our customers, including hosting, online transaction and click-to-call services. And we can get them all from one company, at one monthly cost." The Sentry Group ( www.sentry-grp.com ), based in Rochester, N.Y., is the world leader in fire-resistant security storage.

AT&T customers also have access to Web site design and consulting services through the nation-wide AT&T Creative Alliance Program. AT&T has established alliances with hundreds of professional Web site designers throughout the U.S. and will provide customers with a list of these professionals for Web site design assistance. Through the AT&T Web Site Services Site Launch Program, businesses can choose from four pre-packaged Web site design offers, ranging in price from $500 to $15,000, depending on the complexity of the site.

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