MSN Is First Portal to Offer Live Holiday Shopping Help

REDMOND, Wash., Nov. 20, 2000 — The MSN® network of Internet services, the world’s most popular destination on the Internet, today announced new customer assistance services on MSN eShop, the one-stop shopping location on MSN. The new services, Gift Concierge and Live Online Help, offer consumers around-the-clock access to live, online customer assistance representatives. These features set MSN apart as the first portal to integrate real-time shopping help and advice throughout its site and across more than 75 merchants this holiday season. The latest updates to MSN eShop underscore the MSN commitment to remaining the smartest place to shop online.

“Increasingly, people are looking for some human interaction in online shopping, and with the new shopping features on MSN, consumers can get real-time answers and advice,”
said Yusuf Mehdi, vice president of MSN.
“MSN is merging the personal service of offline shopping with the convenience of online shopping to gift-wrap an easier online holiday experience for consumers.”

Both new services offer MSN eShop users instant access to real-time, one-on-one shopping and customer service throughout the site. Based on text-messaging software, the services are a single click away and do not require users to download any additional software. Continuing the overall MSN commitment to deliver a premier online shopping experience, these holiday helpers expand the array of MSN shopping resources aimed at putting more tools at users’ fingertips than any other site. To use either service, consumers just click on designated links throughout MSN eShop.

“What I like about the Gift Concierge feature is that a live person is advising and assisting me in using the tools and guides MSN eShop has always had, as well as some of its new features for the holiday season,”
said George Guerrero of New York City.
“With the holidays approaching, it’s often a chore tracking down that perfect gift, and the Gift Concierge made it less work and more fun to shop for the holidays.”

Gift Concierge representatives answer questions for online shoppers, help them find specific items, identify resources where they can compare specific attributes of a product, connect them with the right buyer’s guide, or simply get them started with suggestions for that hard-to-buy-for person from MSN eShop’s 10 topical gift guides. MSN eShop’s most popular gift guides include the Kid Central guide, with the Kid-Gift-o-Matic feature that offers gift-giving suggestions based on price range and the child’s age; the Deck the Halls guide for food and home decor around the yuletide season; and the Sexy Santa guide, with a saucier holiday gift collection for the holidays.

Live Online Help is focused on aiding shoppers with various resources across the MSN eShop site. For general customer service or help questions, an MSN eShop representative will be available on live chat in the Help section of the site and across MSN eShop. The service is designed to increase the speed and efficiency of an online purchase on MSN eShop and, more important, to improve the overall quality of the customer service experience. Live Online Help offers a secure, private and service-oriented holiday shopping experience for those consumers who wish to use it.

The new services also play a key role in supporting the MSN holiday online shopping promotion. Through the Holiday Bonus, MSN is offering consumers who use a Microsoft® Passport
one of two shopping incentives: a 20 percent off bonus on either their current or a future purchase at a participating MSN eShop retailer, or free shipping from participating retailers featured on MSN eShop. Live Online Help is available to assist online shoppers with any questions relating to the promotion or to creating or using a Microsoft Passport wallet, which allows users to make online purchases easy, fast and more secure. More than 50 merchants – a 90 percent increase from the last holiday season – honor Microsoft Passport wallet for Express Purchase on their sites, including,, Costco Online and

MSN eShop has experienced phenomenal growth over the past year: The number of shoppers has increased more than 160 percent. During that time, the number of times consumers have clicked onto merchant sites through MSN eShop has increased by more than 500 percent, which means that MSN is helping more consumers than ever find exactly what they are looking for online.

With this growth comes a continued commitment from MSN eShop to offer consumers the most complete array of decision-making resources and tools to help them easily find what they want and make the right purchase. Overall, MSN eShop is providing consumers with a wealth of tools and resources to shop online, including power searching capabilities, Top 10 lists of the hottest-selling products, Epinions consumer reviews and in-house expert reviews, a Bargain Center for easy access to discounted items, and side-by-side comparison shopping. In addition, MSN eShop’s recently enhanced Gift Center offers resources such as occasion-based Gift Finders, gift guides, personalized reminders and the ability to mark products with a
“save for later”

About MSN

MSN gives consumers a new home on the Internet — a central place where they can get everything they need from the Web and make the most of their time online. With more than 210 million visitors in September, the MSN integrated network of content and services is the most popular destination on the Internet. MSN is available in 33 markets and in 17 languages – a broader global presence than any other portal. MSN takes advantage of the Microsoft .NET Platform to offer leading services, any time, any place and on any device, with the most integrated and personalized user experience for communications, search, shopping, personal finance and entertainment. MSN Internet Access and the recently introduced MSN Explorer offer quick, personal and exciting ways to get on to and take advantage of the Web. Best-of-breed services include the MSN Hotmail® Web-based e-mail service, the world’s largest e-mail system; MSN Messenger Service, one of the fastest growing instant messaging services on the Web; MSN Search, the second most popular online search service; MSN Mobile, the customizable wireless information service; the award-winning MSN MoneyCentral™
online personal finance guide; MSN eShop, the one-stop online shopping resource; and MSN Custom Web Sites, the easy way to share information on the Web. MSN is located on the Web at .

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
) is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software — any time, any place and on any device.

Microsoft, MSN, Hotmail and MoneyCentral are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

Note to editors: If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft Web page at on Microsoft’s corporate information pages.

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