Web experts from Lancaster University's department of computing are helping companies to develop their online shopping services.
Parisian department store Galeries-Lafayette is looking to Lancaster's experts to improve a system that allows customers to talk directly to salespeople over the web, using a form of video-conferencing. This would have major benefits over the usual non-interactive photographs of items for sale.
Project leader David Hutchison said: "More companies are wanting to get new business from the internet. This project hopes to give the shopper a way of shopping from home that has the added value of being able to get information from another human being at the store, and cuts out the 'impersonality' of the internet that some people find off-putting."
Professor Hutchison's department and co-researchers in German and Swiss universities, together with the industrial partners, have received E700,000 (Pounds 409,000) from the European Commission for this work, which will include looking at systems to make credit-card payments more secure and to make in-store browsing anonymous.