Come surfing with ... Mark Price.

Waitrose director of selling and marketing Mark Price believes that internet businesses which fail to fulfil their promises are giving others a bad name.

I launched waitrose.com in September 1999, but my interest in the internet first started when I attended an ADP course at the London Business School in 1995.

The internet was still an unknown area to most people then, and it was really inspiring to be introduced at an early stage. My interest in new media developed rapidly.

Now I use the internet at work to monitor the Waitrose site and our competitors' sites on a daily basis. This keeps me up to speed with any new developments in the marketplace.

Previously, the monitoring of our competitors was a much more laborious and time-consuming task. Now I can access rival web sites in seconds to view their new press releases and services.

But my usage of new media isn't just restricted to the office. I use the internet at home to book holidays and to visit my favourite web sites.

I also spend a lot of time surfing with my daughter, who sees the web as a fun way to learn.

I enjoy the richness of information that I can gather from the web and it never fails to amaze me how much time you can spend in front of your PC.

My gripes are that some sites are still very slow, with a lack of web-specific content, and are not straightforward for those new to the internet.

Sites that are difficult to navigate are really discouraging for first-time users, who could be put off returning in the future.

Giving customers reliable unmetered access is another ongoing concern, but one that I hope will be addressed in the New Year. It dismays me that some ISPs have been able to promise the world, get huge publicity then not deliver.

The internet enables anyone with a bright idea and a small amount of money to start selling online. Cyberspace provides a level playing field for big or small companies to reach the consumer. I think this is why there have been so many terror stories about bad service.

Fulfilment is the key to success for any direct business. If you set up a new company trading from home with a mate, how can you receive, pack and dispatch 100 orders per day? New internet businesses that want to build upon the trust they have with their customers run the risk of being discredited by the excesses of others.

In the supermarket industry, I firmly believe that e-tail and retail should be viewed as two complementary businesses, and that supermarkets will see home shopping becoming profitable in a few years' time.

The convergence of computer, telephone and TV technology will transform the current formats of home shopping. Mobility will be the key and customers will be able to shop anywhere, any place, any time.

The potential innovations which might flow from these early beginnings are as incomprehensible to us today as flying was in the 1800s.



Crewe Alexander Football Club: I've been a really big fan of 'The Railwaymen' since I was taken to my first home game when I was nine years old. While I can no longer get to as many games as I'd like, I can still keep up-to-date with all the latest information about the club via what is (in my unbiased eyes) the most informative unofficial club site on the web. There is also an SMS messaging service which sends news straight to your mobile phone.

Web address: www.crewealex.co.uk

Developer: Rivals.net



National Geographic: I remember reading National Geographic magazine as a child. Now online, the site's design conjures up strong memories of happy times discovering the Tomb of Tutankhamun or the 'mysteries of the deep'. The site has tailored content suitable for all ages, and it is a lovely experience seeing my daughter enjoy the things I did at her age. There is also an online store selling such essentials as night vision monoculars and telescopes.

Web address: www.nationalgeographic.com

Developer: In-house



ISP News In my position, it is imperative that I am constantly updated with all the latest market developments and issues. This site, which concentrates primarily on the US ISP market, helps me do this. A searchable archive goes back to the beginning of 1999, and with all the latest news on mergers, content deals and developments in infrastructure, I can ensure that waitrose.com keeps moving in the desired direction.

Web address: www.internetnews.com/isp-news

Developer: In-house



CricInfo I know it has been put forward before in this column, but no self-respecting cricket fan can do without having this site bookmarked. With all the latest scores from any first class game played around the world, interviews with the game's big names, and even a database of test cricket scores to settle any friendly disputes you might have. This site has proved to be one of the great internet success stories.

Web address: www.cricinfo.com

Developer: In-house.



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