Downer: site will make 'significant contribution'

<p>Borders UK c.e.o. Philip Downer expects the retailer&#39;s new transactional website, which launched into beta testing this week, to have a &quot;very significant contribution&quot; to sales in the long term.</p><p>The site went into beta on Monday, listing titles at up to 40% discount. Downer said the site would be in testing for the foreseeable future: &quot;There&#39;s nothing in the design or functionality that requires an enormous amount of work, but it&#39;s a question of making sure we meet customer expectations.&quot;</p><p>The website offers a &quot;spookily accurate book suggestion system&quot;, &quot;innovative&quot; search and browsing and a books forum for customers.</p><p>The beta launch comes as research agency Verdict revealed that internet shopping numbers are at an all time high, with spending growing at the fastest rate for six years. In 2007, spending online with all retailers grew by 35% to &pound;14.7bn, a rate of growth almost 10 times higher than that experienced across the total retail market. Books also experienced growth, although at 15% lagged behind the average rate of increase.</p><p>According to Verdict research, online spending on books grew from &pound;438m in 2006 to &pound;504m in 2007.</p>