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Buy.com to Power Fandango's Etail Entry

19 Sep, 2002 By: Holly J. Wagner

A partnership that will have buy.com hanging out its shingle at online movie ticketing service Fandango is just the leading edge of buy.com's planned expansion in media and entertainment.

The nation's second-largest pure-play etailer is making an aggressive push to close the gap between it and Amazon.com, the No. 1 etailer, and plans to add up to a half dozen more entertainment and media partners by the end of the year, said Sherman Atkinson, president of United Commerce Service Inc. (UCS), buy.com's wholly owned infrastructure subsidiary.

“Our major competitor is Amazon,” Atkinson acknowledged, adding buy.com is building alliances with high-tech entertainment companies.

Fandango.com, which lets Web surfers check local movie showtimes, buy and print tickets online and also offers service by phone, will add 1.3 million entertainment-related SKUs (300,000 are software) via the buy.com partnership. UCS will manage inventory, fulfillment, site content, customer service, Web site hosting and e-mail marketing for Fandango.

“I think you will see four or five new clients in the next few months,” Atkinson said. Those clients may include companies that will provide wireless e-commerce and sales via interactive television for both their own products and buy.com's.

“These are true partnerships, and we see the distribution path going both ways,” Atkinson said. “Everybody has seen the evolution of the e-commerce realm. They want to be there, but they want to mitigate the risk.”

UCS has developed a back-end software that lets businesses create a “virtual private label” online by adding e-commerce to their Web sites without changing the existing look or branding. “[It is] nothing more than buy.com in a box that powers that commerce engine,” Atkinson said. “Their users are never going to see a difference.” To ease the jitters, UCS offers its platform via a revenue-sharing model for new clients.

Giga Information Group analyst Andrew Bartels said more companies will outsource their online workload as they realize they can leverage other companies' investment in infrastructure. “I think the number of companies that this makes sense for is pretty large,” Bartels said.

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