MSN eShop Helps Ease Last-Minute Holiday Stress

REDMOND, Wash., Dec. 21, 1999 — Holiday shoppers inevitably wait until the last moment to finish their gift-buying. In fact, for most busy people, holiday tradition includes a trudge to the mall and a stressful but fruitless search for the perfect gifts.

But this year, online shopping has become a time-saving solution for more last-minute shoppers than ever. As the holiday shopping deadline approaches, Microsoft has bolstered its MSN eShop Web site specifically to give time-constrained shoppers the tools they need to find great last-minute gifts — fast.

During the final shopping days of the 1999 season, the eShop home page is featuring a Gift Finder that suggests gifts based on consumers’ needs, as well as a Holiday Gift Guide that highlights popular and unique gifts from a variety of retailers.

“We want to make it as easy as possible for people to give last-minute gifts that don’t look last-minute,” said MSN Lead Product Manager Deanna Sanford. “If consumers don’t have time to go out shopping, MSN eShop’s Express Gift Guide is a great resource.”

Using the Gift Finder, shoppers can enter information about the recipient and find gift ideas based on age, gender and price range. Shoppers can also peruse guides that provide gift ideas in a variety of categories, including electronics, sports equipment and toys. Both contain unique or popular gift ideas assembled by a team of retail experts who watch online buying trends and locate available “hot-ticket” gift items, such as Pokemon-themed toys or music from popular artists.

“We pull out the best of what’s hot and what’s still available in order to help shoppers find ideal presents — even if they are short on time,” said Sanford.

Sanford also notes the popularity of MSN gift certificates, which can be given by e-mail and used at any eShop store. “As we get closer to the end of the holiday season, more and more people are buying them,” said Sanford. “They are great for anyone, especially if you have no idea what to get someone on your list.”

Last-minute shoppers on eShop also can ease stress and save time by using Passport, a free sign-in and wallet service that automatically provides a customer’s credit card information and shipping addresses to online merchants over a secure connection. In addition, enhanced search tools, detailed product information, objective product reviews, side-by-side comparisons, buying tips, gift finders, wish lists and special promotions take the stress out of the holiday rush.

According to Sanford, eShop’s expanded range of services has contributed to a 300 percent increase in holiday traffic over MSN Shopping’s traffic last year. According to a recent study by E-valuations Research, roughly four out of five shoppers plan to make future purchases at MSN eShop, and 85 percent of shoppers surveyed felt the site was as good or better than any other online shopping site.

“MSN eShop is a strong site for researching and comparing products,” said Sanford. “For consumers who are trying to make decisions about the right product and the right place to buy that product, it’s a great place to go.”

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