Flextech is planning to expand into home shopping with the launch
of Screenshop, a European home-shopping service that will sell products
direct to consumers using UK-produced infomercials.
The company, which unveiled details at this week’s European Cable
Communications conference, also confirmed plans to launch a 24-hour,
digital Screenshop service by the end of 1998.
Last year, Flextech and its parent, TCI, took a major stake in HSN
Direct, an infomercials-based, US home-shopping service.
The company tested HSN Direct in Europe earlier this year using downtime
on Flextech channels to sell US products, using infomercials produced in
the US. Screenshop has now been launched out of HSN Direct to offer
viewers in the UK and the rest of Europe a local service.
’There are plans for an Internet-based home shopping service with secure
transaction systems and a Screenshop Club, offering discounts and
special deals on products,’ said Screenshop’s European general manager,
Meirion Alcock, adding that the company sees Screenshop as the first in
a new generation of transactional TV-based services.
Screenshop will use downtime on Flextech channels and commercial
minutage on its own and other channels, something that it can do
following the Independent Television Commission’s decision earlier this
year to relax its restrictions on home shopping airtime.
Flextech has already set up its own telemarketing and fulfilment
centres. It will offer manufacturers an infomercials production service
based at its Maidstone facility. However, advertisers will be free to
provide their own infomercials as well.