Oasis Market tests the commercial feasibility of a network of interactive sales terminal (IST) for teleshopping services. The project includes the realization of a network of multimedia hybrid systems, ISTs, and small office home office terminals (SHOOT) integrated with Internet that enables the experimentation of a teleshopping catalogue integrated with financial services. Since the advent of the personal computers in 1981, retailers and people involved in commerce have been developing ISTs in order to provide customers and staff with information and services. The diffusion and success of Internet opened a new electronic channel to marketplace. Starting from these a study has been made of the development of the OASIS Market application intending to test the possibility of making commercially useful a network of ISTs for teleshopping services. The project includes: the realization of a network of ISTs that permits the experimentation of a teleshopping catalogue integrated with financial services; the installation, for the piloting phase, of a significant number of ISTs, in order to experiment the teleshopping service and verify its commercial validity. The verification includes and expands the range of parameters proposed and foresees: alleviating of the multimedia components of the catalogue that are difficult to transmit via network; valorization of the commercial data up-dating flexibility via network from the control centre; integration into the catalogue of an ordering system managed from the control centre; interactive connection (via network) of the ISTs with the administrator of the payments system; the integration of the catalogues on a hypertext mark-up language (HTML) based platform.
A fully functional, totally integrated real time system capable of handling each and every aspect of sales and service, and oriented towards providing continuity and co-ordination of the various methods of contact with a prospective customer was developed by MFI for its own internal use. The design concentrated on simplicity, with the objective of allowing it in future to be used in many different operating platforms; different locations and different levels of user expertise. A major contribution to the project was the development and introduction of what become known as rapid or dynamic storyboarding. Dynamic storyboarding in simple terms involved converting the outline design at a very early stage into extremely simple storyboards using any convenient clip art available and a simple demonstration tool such as PowerPoint. Trials were carried progressively with each module developed, and finally with the full prototype. Whilst it is referred to as a prototype, it already provides a greater level of functionality and facilities than current systems. The benefits have been; the ability to further test understanding of the customer contact with live situations and to adjust the system to suit; the ability to better understand the customers, their likes and dislikes both in the system content and their attitude towards it, and, more importantly, how that attitude is changing.