Comet has become the first retailer to sign up to the UK government’s Race Online 2012 initiative to get the UK close to 100% internet enabled by the end of the Olympic year.
Comet joins Google, McDonalds, Microsoft, and BT in supporting the challenge, led by the government’s newly-appointed digital champion, lastminute.com founder Martha Lane Fox, to get more of the UK’s adults online. More than 10 million adults in the UK have never used the internet, according to Race Online 2012, which says that of those four million are socially disadvantaged.
A recent report by PwC put the economic benefit of getting everyone in the UK online at £22 billion. It estimated government could save at least £900m a year in customer contact costs if all digitally excluded adults got online and made just one electronic contact per month.
Hugh Harvey, Comet’s managing director said: “We are proud to have been selected as one of Race Online 2012’s founding partners and look forward to using our specialist credentials to help bridge the digital divide. The advantages of being online cannot be underestimated, both in terms of the financial savings and the educational benefits.”
Comet is to run a Pass IT On program, running in-store courses to train ‘digitally disadvantaged’ people to use the internet. They’ll be offering first-time users low-cost computer packages and running programmes to train older people, while working with charity and community partners on related initiatives.
Our view: Getting non-internet users online is a laudable aim, which is also very much in online retailers interests. Every new computer user, after all, is a potential shoppers – and figures have shown again and again that multichannel shoppers spend more.