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Sainsbury's has finally got around to offering its customers online shopping. The supermarket chain -- which in recent years has lost its pole position to Tesco -- has been running a very limited delivery service for 12 months, but plans to change all that through a partnership with ISP LineOne. The chain has predicted a user base of 30 million by 2003, and will offer those within the M25 about two-thirds of its goods from Sainsbury's and subsidiary Homebase from Spring next year. A representative refused to reveal the nature of the deal with LineOne, but did say Sainsbury's will be leaving the company's online access CDs in its stores. The company plans to ship online orders direct from a warehouse, as opposed to the more complex and expensive method of autonomous individual stores. However, any cost saving will not be passed onto the consumer since all store and online prices will the same. The move will allow Sainsbury's to retain some of the booming online market, but it is also a case of too little too late. With most supermarkets already offering online shopping -- Tesco set up its service in 1996 -- it will have to build up the service very quickly if it is to keep up with competitors. ®

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