Connoisseurs of the finer things in life, including the World Wide Web, of course, are now being offered the opportunity to buy top quality products from the Scottish Highlands, directly from the producers, with the launch of another of the growing band of UK interactive shopping services.
Although served up from the PIPEX Worldserver, the Highland Trail Company has been set up in the north of Scotland by husband and wife team Michael and Jessica Wolff, who describe it as the online equivalent of the world-famous "Harrods Food Hall".
Alongside fresh and smoked salmon, smoked venison, and malt whisky, cashmere and woollen tartans are among the range of products which are on offer to the millions of users of the rapidly expanding commercial development of the Internet’s World Wide Web.
A team of teleworkers has been recruited to run the Highland Trail Company and designers operate in Elgin and Banff in Moray, and in London. Copywriters located in the Scottish Borders and Brisbane, Australia, are linked electronically via the Internet and the Highlands and Islands advanced digital telecoms network.
The launch has already been welcomed by businesses in the Highlands and Jessica Wolff maintains it has the potential to revolutionise shopping. On-line shopping in the USA was estimated to be worth $200m last year with the number of potential shoppers via the Internet expected to double over the next 12 months.
The Highland Trail Company has been set up with pump-priming finance from local enterprise company Moray Badenoch and Strathspey Enterprise and is to establish a base in Forres. MBSE Chief Executive Dick Ruane said the development was further evidence of the technical and commercial lead which the Highlands and Islands was establishing in the field of information technology applications.
Among the first producers to join the Highland Trail and take advantage of its coordinated marketing and logistics services, is Summer Isles Foods, a long established smokehouse based in Achiltibuie on the west coast of Rossshire.
Founder and managing director Keith Dunbar said: "It is a major breakthrough to be able to invite so many customers in the UK and overseas to contact us direct at Achiltibuie. It is easy and convenient to order a range of Summer Isles Foods for delivery direct to your home or office or to send to friends as special gifts.”
"Plus it means that I can expand my business globally without ever having to leave home."
Jessica Wolff said: "Besides the major commercial benefits of speed, cost and convenience, the Web is a wonderfully creative tool for making shopping an exciting and fulfilling experience. The passion and pride in the production of their goods can be conveyed by producers directly to their potential customers."