Three more electronic shopping ventures formed p. 27

By: Editorial Staff THE LOS ANGELES Times and a new subsidiary of the San Francisco-based Pacific Telesis regional Bell operating company are forming a joint venture that will offer electronic shopping information and transaction services through a variety of devices. Two more shopping channels on cable television also have been announced.
Designed to help California businesses and consumers reach each other in new, more efficient ways, the Times-PacTel partnership hopes to create an integrated electronic marketplace where consumers conveniently can access information about the products and services that interest them. Pricing has not been set.
Services will combine business listings, classified and display ads, and editorial and promotional material within a "comprehensive electronic resource." The companies said customers will have access to in-depth information ranging from home upkeep and real estate to auto, travel and entertainment services.
Information about all businesses in a region will include name, type of operation, phone number, address, location and directions. More specific information and messages may be added by the businesses.
The venture first will offer services in Southern California, then seek other partners elsewhere in the state.
Slated to start late this year, the service initially will rely on two methods for users to access information. Reached by telephone, shopping assistants will perform database searches, then read, fax or mail information to callers. Alternatively, customers may use the system through automated audiotex or modem-equipped home computers.
The companies said they plan to offer the services through newer technologies such as personal digital assistants, screen phones and interactive television.
For cable TV, two more upscale shopping channels were announced last month. Time Warner-Spiegel's Catalogue 1, which begins tests in four unspecified markets before going national, will feature products from several retailers, which will share the costs and supply programming. Home Shopping Network plans to open the Television Shopping Mall this summer.
HSN competitor QVC has a second channel scheduled to start up in the spring, and a cable-TV outlet for Macy's department store also is in the works.


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