Launched in 2000, the sale of tickets on the Internet met with immediate success and raised the site over the long term among the main players in e-commerce.

“This is something used by the military in the United States. We could put our train schedules there. It’s called the Internet, maybe one day it will replace the Minitel. ” Patricia Lacoste, the head of distribution channels at SNCF, remembered the proposal made by the company’s research department one day in September 1996. For the first time, she heard about this network. At the time, the SNCF was well established on the Minitel, where its reservation service was the most visited after the directory. Patricia Lacoste obtains the hiring of a full-time employee and 1 million francs to initiate the launch of SNCF on the Web. Guillaume Pepy, then Deputy CEO, explains: “We knew that we would never be able to meet the expectations of a traveler – in terms of schedules or queues – with more salespeople, shops or counters. We needed to be among the pioneers of the consumer Internet, making the seller’s screen accessible to customers, so they could study all the offers. ”

In 2000, a team of railway workers and Internet specialists developed the (VSC, now renamed merchant site. Mireille Faugère, then commercial director of the main lines, was in charge of the creation of the back-to-back subsidiary: “We knew that we were competent in distance selling, on the Minitel and by telephone. The key to getting customers to switch to the site was to provide them with robust technology. So all the money was spent on technology, not on communication. ” This choice will also allow VSC not to blink when the bubble explodes, in (…)

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