Six “Must Click” Features Make Online Shopping Easier, More Enjoyable on MSN

REDMOND, Wash., July 12, 2000 — Alexander Wilmerding had a problem. The director of strategic development for Web publisher was traveling to New Jersey when he was reminded that his friends were about to get married in the relatively remote area of Mount Desert Island, Maine. He needed to send a gift — pronto. But with the wedding about to take place, and Mount Desert Island virtually a shopping-free zone, what could he send and how could he get it there on time?

Wilmerding turned to MSN. Accessing the Gift Center of the MSN eShop online shopping service, he researched and selected a beautiful flower arrangement. By using MSN eShop, he located a nearby florist to deliver the arrangement in time and looked like a hero to his friends hundreds of miles away in Maine.

“I use MSN eShop regularly, so I felt confident I could get a gift to my friends in time,”
Wilmerding says.
“I buy something every week — from toothpaste to clothing, garden supplies and gifts. It’s the best place to buy everything I want. I like the merchants. I’m comfortable with the MSN brand. I’ve had really great experiences — the last-minute floral arrangement was just icing on the wedding cake, so to speak.”

Wilmerding typifies the 85 percent of MSN e-shop users who told Microsoft in a recent survey that the service was as good or better than any other online shopping site they’d visited. Not content with those plaudits, MSN also asked consumers to dream up their wish lists of eShop improvements. Then, MSN developers set about implementing the best of those ideas.

The result is a series of enhancements, including full-text searching, best-seller lists, a sales and deals page, a gift center and more. The goal is to help consumers find exactly what they want and to make the right decision about which products to buy — more easily, enjoyably and securely.

MSN eShop offers consumers a variety of ways to search the site. Building on the existing Power Searches, MSN improved eShop’s full-text search capability, ensuring that consumers receive the most relevant information and offers in their search results. MSN also added a simple drop-down menu to help consumers more easily find products from brands they trust, in the price range they want.

Direct links from MSN eShop’s home page also make it easy to check out and buy the
“Top 10”
hottest titles in the most popular product categories, including books, CDs and DVDs.

Because eShop’s existing Sales and Deals page is one of the site’s most popular pages, MSN has incorporated a
“Featured Offers”
selection from that page to appear throughout the site. As a consumer browses and searches through product categories and information, MSN eShop displays related
“Featured Offers”
that represent significant savings. MSN also has enhanced the Gift Center with an occasion-based Gift Finder and Gift Certificates, as well as giving consumers the ability to browse multiple gift guides, set-up gift reminders, and save gift ideas for later.

To help customers learn more about products, MSN eShop’s Buyers Guide includes an array of product information, plus decision support resources including Expert Product Reviews, side-by-side comparison shopping, lifestyle searches and expert tips on everything from designing your home theater system to preparing for your first baby. MSN eShop also is working with Epinions ( to include consumer product reviews, which enable consumers to read real opinions from real consumers when deciding which products and services to buy and which to avoid.

MSN eShop’s features helped Wilmerding turn his small Manhattan patio into a lush garden with potted roses and other flowers, using the shovels and other gardening implements — and even a barbecue — that he purchased online.

“MSN made it easy to search for the grill and to find related gardening items I didn’t even go to the site to look for,”
Wilmerding says.
“You just type items into the new search engine and see what comes up. It’s fun.”

Hilary Park of Camp Hill, Pa., agrees.
“MSN is the most convenient way to go about shopping,”
she says. Park has used the site to buy CDs, comparison-shop for a stereo and get gift ideas for Father’s Day.

I like shopping on MSN eShop using Microsoft Passport — with all your vital information stored in your ‘wallet,’ shopping takes less time and is more fun.

“From the single MSN eShop site, you can find anything you want, and using Best-Seller lists and the new search tool, even things you wouldn’t otherwise have thought of,”
Park says.
“No other shopping service offers as much.”

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