CHL Launches Italy's First Mobile Commerce Venture

ROME (03/20/2000) - CHL SpA, a Florence-based company specializing in the online sale of personal computers, hi-fi and other electronic equipment, has become Italy's first company to launch a mobile commerce service exploiting the country's high level of cell phone usage, the company announced today.

Under a new scheme dubbed SMShop, clients will receive information about CHL's products by SMS (short message service) on their cellular phones, the company said in a statement issued today. Further details about the offers will be published in traditional media such as magazines and newspapers 24 hours after the initial offers appear via cell phones, CHL said. Orders can also be placed by SMS, with clients benefitting from large discounts over retail prices, the company added.

The first experimental launch of the SMShop service was carried out via an advertisement in the sports daily Gazzetta dello Sport offering six promotional products on March 6, CHL said. More than 5,000 people have already registered for the SMShop service, the company added.

Most operators are waiting to see how WAP (wireless application protocol) and UMTS (universal mobile telecommunication system) technologies develop, CHL Chairman and Founder Stefano Bargagni said in a prepared statement. "We think it's more important to start using the technologies that people already have at their disposal," he said. Today, more than 30 million Italians own cell phones, with many, particularly the young, making frequent use of the SMS function, Bargagni added.

CHL was founded in 1993 and currently has some 200,000 registered users. Last year the company had revenues of 83 billion lire (US$41.7 million), 97 percent generated by online sales, the company said.

Recently, CHL has been aiming to attract customers by offering a seven-day holiday in Italy for two adults and two children for anyone purchasing equipment worth more than 2 million lire. The company has also offered return flights to the United States for clients spending more than 1 million lire on a new personal computer.

CHL can be contacted in Florence at +39-055-3370 or on the World Wide Web at http://www.chl.it/.

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