RealTime IT News Offers Free Storefront Service for Members

San Francisco-based direct e-commerce company Inc. launched Member Stores, a free service that allows small business owners to build and promote their own online stores.

The service includes a Web-based app called EasyStoreBuilder and the opportunity to promote their store in the Member Stores shopping area. partnered with e-commerce provider Netgateway Inc. to create, host and manage the new service. Financial arrangements between the companies were not disclosed. members can use EasyStoreBuilder to create a free online store with up to three different products. The service also includes technical support and instructions on how to establish an Internet-ready credit card merchant account. Members may elect to upgrade to a larger storefront for a monthly fee starting at $89.95.

"Unlike our Affiliate Network, which allows homepage builders to earn commissions on sales, Member Stores empowers small business owners to sell their own products online, whether they already have a Web site or not," said Stuart Illian, vice president of channel development for, which claims more than 7.5 million members and offers homepage building, chat rooms, message boards, HTML e-mail, online greeting cards, clip art and downloadable software utilities, will be included in the recently announced NBC Internet or NBCi operation, along with the Snap Web directory. shareholders would own 34 percent of the new company.