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AOL Lands Veteran Exec For E-Commerce Effort

America Online Inc. has lured a veteran merchandise executive to spearhead the launch of its new online shopping section.

Veteran merchandiser Patrick Gates has joined AOL as vice president of e-commerce. Gates, who brings more than 15 years of merchandising experience to the job, will oversee the merchandising initiatives. Gates has served previous stints at the Home Shopping Network, Neiman Marcus and Barneys New York.

Shop@AOL intends to drive sales by cultivating consumer loyalty for major brand name goods and services. Personal buying guides and a streamlined customer interface with enhanced search functions will be integrated into the AOL site.

AOL reported that its shoppers spent a record $1.8 billion dollars in March. More than 1.7 million first-time buyers made Web purchases through AOL during the same time frame. The figures reflect a 75 percent increase over September 1998 sales revenue made by AOL shoppers.

Bob Pittman, AOL's president and chief operating officer, said the announcement underscores the growing success of AOL shopping.

"It is our goal to capture a greater share of rising e-commerce revenues while delivering to consumers the most rewarding shopping experience available."

After initial testing, Shop@AOL will be cloned for Shop@Netcenter and Shop@CompuServe later this year.



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