Office.com Announces New Cross-Marketing Deals

Office.com, an online business service from Winstar Communications, Inc. (Nasdaq:WCII), has formed partnerships with six leading providers of products for small and medium-sized businesses. A fourth-quarter launch is planned.

The new alliance, which is designed to be an effort to develop more expedient business-to-business e-commerce, includes barnesandnoble.com, Hello Direct (Nasdaq:Helo), MasterCard, OfficeMax.com (NYSE:OMX), RoweCom (Nasdaq:ROWE) and Stamps.com (Nasdaq:STAMP).

“The business-to-business e-commerce market has become a retail powerhouse, and the category is expanding,” said Jeff Cutler, senior vice-president and general manager of Office.com.

What It Means For Users

The initial launch of Office.com will allow users to access a line of integrated business news and financial content, and stay current on business trends and strategies. Marketing, legal and technical information necessary to operate a business will also be offered at the site.

Although those services will likely attract a percentage of users, the partnerships for business-to-business e-commerce may be the site’s calling card. Indirectly, the new partnership addresses results of recent studies that highlight frustrated Internet users’ complaints about cumbersome systems. Often times, users fail to complete transactions because of long waits or complicated Web sites.

By linking directly to sites relevant to small and medium size businesses, Office.com hopes to provide quick, easy solutions to the ongoing needs of these businesses.

What The Payers Bring To The Table

Barnesandnoble.com, already a powerhouse in online commerce, will offer its usual broad spectrum of services, including its much touted one-click ordering. Hello Direct, Inc. intends to offer Office.com users a selection of commercial grade telephone products, while RoweCom will enable users to access informational resources for their businesses.

The inclusion of OfficeMax.com and Stamps.com will allow one-stop shopping for office supplies and stamps and MasterCard will be featured as the preferred payment method.

Office.com’s foray into integrated e-commerce for businesses may signal a trend that responds to Internet users’ desire for convenience and quality, sometimes even at the expense of price. Some recent studies indicate that online shoppers are not spending much time on price comparisons or seeking out competing Web sites to find good deals.

In fact, many users are looking to click onto a site, do business and disconnect. Thus, as e-commerce transactions continue to grow exponentially, one-stop-shops may find the greatest success.

About Office.com And Winstar Communications

In 1998, Office.com debuted “Business Tools” in Yahoo!’s Small Business channel. Winstar Communications deals in local and long distance phone service, high speed Internet access and data and information services.

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