LANSING, Mich.-Members of the Michigan Retailers Association, which includes the Michigan Tire & Vehicle Service Association, will soon be ``surfing the Net'' when the association opens its Internet site in early February. The MRA is setting up its ``RetailNet'' on the World Wide Web area of the Internet which will allow its members direct access to an MRA home page and other business resources on the Internet.
Unlike other commercial services that provide Internet access, the MRA said the RetailNet is less expensive-a flat $19.95 monthly fee rather than an hourly rate-and it offers a ``virtual private network'' that allows exclusive communication between MRA members.
The association, which has 4,400 members, expects sign-up for the new service to be slow at first, said Tom Scott, MRA's vice president of public affairs and communications. The on-line service wasn't a program members were clamoring for, Mr. Scott admitted, but the MRA believes as an association it needs to ``be out in front'' in bringing new services and technology to its members.
Eventually, the MRA plans to establish a ``Michigan Mall'' shopping service on the Internet where members can set up their own home pages to market their products.