MSN Enters Holiday Season as No. 1 Shopping Portal

— The MSN Dollars program described below expired as of October 31, 2003.

REDMOND, Wash., Nov. 29, 2002 — The MSN®
network of Internet Services today announced that MSN Shopping kicked off the holiday season this week as the No. 1 online shopping portal,* with traffic up 50 percent this November, as compared to the same time last year.

MSN Shopping looks to build on this momentum by offering shoppers an increased selection of merchandise and brands, enhanced comparison shopping tools, improved customer service and special promotions — including MSN Dollars incentives — in time for the busy holiday season.
“It’s great to be recognized as the No. 1 shopping portal,”
said Jim Barr, general manager of commerce services at MSN.
“This confirms that MSN Shopping is delivering valuable information and easy-to-use tools to help consumers make informed purchase decisions, and that we are providing the shopping experience they appreciate and choose over other options.”
The holiday shopping season caps a year in which the total number of visitors to MSN Shopping exceeded 100 million, almost double the traffic on MSN Shopping in 2001. The recent 12 Days of Exclusive Deals program contributed to this increase in traffic and jump-started holiday shopping on MSN Shopping. Several of the merchants featured in the program sold out of their exclusive inventory in hours, and merchants hailed the 12 Days program as the most successful MSN promotion of the year, delivering results that surpassed expectations.

MSN Dollars Offers Multiple Retailers for Earning, Redeeming Rewards

This fall, MSN made the most significant enhancements to MSN Shopping in the portal’s three-year history. Product information and research tools were greatly expanded, and the number of products quadrupled. For example, in the popular Apparel category, MSN Shopping now offers consumers more than 1,500 brands. Improved tools in key categories allow consumers to compare products across brands and manufacturers and shop for the best price across multiple retailers.

In addition to these enhancements, MSN Shopping will help shoppers stretch their gift-giving budget with its Holiday Rewards Program. The program, which began Nov. 25, awards MSN Dollars equivalent to as much as 20 percent of the price of every purchase made with an MSN Wallet at a broad selection of participating retailers. This incentive is available for U.S. shoppers for a limited time, in addition to any discounts offered by individual stores.

Unlike rewards offered by other shopping portals, MSN Dollars can be earned and redeemed at multiple retailers. For example, a shopper who spends $500 each at two different participating MSN Shopping stores earns $100 in MSN Dollars, which the shopper can spend at other participating MSN Shopping stores.

MSN Dollars is built on Microsoft®
technology and backed by the financial services of Citibank. Easy to use, MSN Dollars are stored in an account that works like a personal online gift card. MSN Dollars are stored in a shopper’s MSN Wallet. The shopper’s MSN Dollars account automatically shows up as a payment method when an online purchase is made at participating stores. If shoppers don’t have enough MSN Dollars to cover a purchase, they can use a credit card or most debit cards to add more MSN Dollars to their account.

Hot Gifts and Holiday Trends on MSN Shopping

In addition to increased traffic, the number of searches on MSN Shopping has more than doubled in the past week. The hot items shoppers are searching for include licensed goods, clothing, classic toys, new classics, gadgets and Spanish music.

Gift Guides, Other Services Enhance Shopping Experience

The broad selection of consumer services and tools offered by MSN Shopping to make holiday shopping easier and more enjoyable includes these:

  • 24×7 customer service and gift concierge. Shoppers can get instant information and gift suggestions from trained MSN Shopping assistants via this live, interactive online chat service.

  • MSN Shopping Warehouse With BoomBuy. Subscribers to MSN 8, the new version of Microsoft’s Internet service, can access MSN Shopping Warehouse with BoomBuy, which provides direct access to thousands of brand-name products at as much as 70 percent below retail price.

  • Themed gift guides. Shoppers can find a broad selection of gifts that are appropriate for different age groups and interests, including themed guides such as Gadgeteria for electronic gadget lovers, Kid-Gift-o-Matic for kids of all ages, and Sexy Santa to help heat up the holidays.

  • Consumer Reports. Shoppers can access evaluations and recommendations from Consumer Reports in key product categories on MSN.

  • Return Center. This service provides shoppers with one centralized location to obtain information from merchants on returns, customer service and tax before or after making a purchase.

  • Procrastination Central. Last-minute shoppers can use this service between Dec. 10 and Dec. 21 and still ensure delivery by Christmas Day.

About MSN

MSN has 9 million subscriptions and attracts more than 300 million unique users worldwide per month. With localized versions available globally in 34 markets and 18 languages, MSN is a world leader in delivering Web services to consumers and digital marketing solutions to businesses worldwide. The most useful and innovative online service today, MSN brings consumers everything they need from the Web to make the most of their time online. MSN is located on the Web at . MSN worldwide sites are located 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.

* comScore Media Metrix, September 2002 data, according to a custom report defined by MSN.

Microsoft and MSN 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.

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