MARK CRAIL

In retrospect, the most curious thing about the collapse of online fashion retailer Boo. com earlier this year may turn out to be that it took so long.

Whoever thought that buying clothes on the web would be a good idea? Just feel those fabrics and try the garment on for size. Suits you, sir.

Although much of the dot. com sector has taken something of a hit since Boo folded, the fact is that e-commerce isn't really that difficult.

A secure server, the ability to take credit card payments, and away you go.The real problem is in getting the goods from A to B once someone has bought them.

Hence the interest of firms like SureStock in cornering the NHS procurement market.

With Unipart as your parent company, you can probably rely on getting the logistics of stock control and delivery right.

But straightforward product orders aren't exactly a revolutionary way to exploit the potential of the Internet.

The transformational stuff - ideas which can turn organisations and the way we work upside down - lurk where it is possible for people to get real services delivered down their modem line.

Just look (on second thoughts, don't) at the porn industry.

Who do you think pioneered all that videoconferencing software?

Online gambling is also a good bet - try Ladbroke's, for example. It works because it's the sort of business you can do without leaving home, or for that matter without staying home for delivery drivers to turn up.

It's pure e-commerce and it's probably coming your way soon.

Of course, the ways in which the principles of web-based betting might be applied to health service management are not immediately apparent - at least not to me.

But the job is so dependent on information in one way or another that it can only be a matter of time.

These and other sites of interest can be reached via HSJ's website at www.hsj.co.uk