Holiday Shoppers Flock to MSN Shopping For Exclusive Promotions, Respected Brands and Broad Product Selection

REDMOND, Wash., Dec. 1, 2003 — Lured by top brands, superior selection and convenient shopping tools, a record number of consumers in the United States ushered in the holiday shopping season on MSN®
Shopping last month. In November 2003, MSN Shopping saw a 50 percent increase in consumer spending and site traffic compared with the same period last year. Although these increases were evident across all categories, in particular shoppers have been snapping up hot items in the home electronics and apparel categories.

“The increased buying and customer satisfaction we’re seeing so far this holiday season clearly indicates that MSN Shopping is fast becoming the online marketplace of choice for discriminating shoppers and merchants,” said Jim Barr, general manager of commerce services at MSN. “Last month’s great start signals what we expect will be MSN Shopping’s best-ever holiday shopping season.”

“More and more consumers are taking advantage of our exclusive deals, great brands, superior selection and convenient shopping tools like our improved search and browse functionality, as well as price comparison options. Our ability to expose product selection from many top merchants across the entire MSN network is a unique advantage for merchants and our consumers,” Barr added.

MSN Provides Retailers With Superior Customer Service and Flexible Solutions

As a result of quality customer support and flexible marketing options, MSN Shopping increased its U.S. advertising merchant base by 30 percent in 2003 and convinced nearly all of last year’s merchants to maintain their presence on the site this holiday season. In addition to offering holiday promotions, MSN enables merchants to reach their consumers on the network’s many channels.

Customers Take Advantage of MSN Shopping Selection and Services

This holiday shopping season caps a year in which the number of visitors to MSN Shopping increased almost 20 percent over 2002. Contributing to this increase are the significant enhancements to the MSN Shopping search and browse functionality, which make it easier for consumers to find exactly what they are looking for, using great decision tools such as store and brand filters, along with price and product comparison information available on the MSN Shopping site. In addition, MSN Shopping has more than doubled its database of products, offering more selection and brands for its consumers.

The record number of consumers who visited MSN Shopping last month didn’t just receive exclusive deals and avoid crowed parking lots and long lines at the checkout counters. They also took advantage of MSN Shopping’s vast selection of respected brands, such as Burberry and Prada, and hard-to-find items from premier merchants, which include numerous Fortune 500 companies. MSN Shopping also offers unique gift options including the Chillow, a combination ice pack and pillow from; the Bow-Lingual dog translator, a gadget to help pet owners understand their best friends; and the Discovery Kids Whodunit, a gift inspired by a popular television show.

The broad array of shopping tools, improved search features, increased selection of products and superior customer assistance on MSN Shopping also proves valuable to many consumers each holiday season. This year, the site saw a 100 percent increase in consumer reliance on MSN Shopping for comprehensive gift-buying ideas, not just help finding specific items.

Other shopping tools offered by MSN Shopping include these:

  • Gift Guides. MSN Shopping’s expert buyers have sorted through thousands of products and picked the best gifts this season in several key categories.

  • Procrastination Central. This service features items guaranteed to be in stock from merchants with shipping policies that ensure products will be delivered in time for the holidays.

  • Comparison tools. Shoppers looking for the best deal on a particular item can use comparison tools from MSN. This feature lets consumers compare products side by side based on their features, price and reviews, and get information on a product’s most important features.

  • Return Center. MSN Shopping’s Return Center offers one centralized location for details about returns, shipping, tax and customer service policies for brand-name retailers, giving MSN shoppers peace of mind during the frantic holiday season.

  • Real-time Shopping Assistant. MSN Shopping assistants are available 24 hours a day via live, interactive online chat areas to answer questions for online shoppers, help them find specific items, and identify resources to compare products and make smart purchases. They can get shoppers started simply with suggestions for that relative or friend who has everything.

About MSN

MSN attracts more than 350 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 ad sales to businesses worldwide. MSN 8 is the first Internet software product to have earned the trusted Good Housekeeping Seal. 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 “MSFT”) 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 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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