Online retailer Spree.com signs up referral partner

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Online financial information provider Stockpoint, formerly InvestorsEdge, becomes the latest partner to join referral-based retailer Spree.com.

Under the terms of the deal, announced today, Spree.com will create a custom bookstore targeted at Stockpoint's 300,000 online investors, and will pay Stockpoint commissions of up to 39% of profits on sales generated through links from its site.

CONTINUOUS PROFIT-SHARING

Spree.com, which launched last month, is one of many revenue-sharing retailing models that is developing in the fast-moving world of electronic commerce partnerships.

Many retailers such as Amazon.com and CDnow offer referring sites a commission on sales generated from customers who link to the retailers' sites from partners' sites.

However, Spree.com said it is unique because it offers its partners continuous profit-sharing from customers, regardless of where they link from when they return to shop.

"It's not a bounty program like other types of revenue-sharing programs," said Lance Roncalli, VP-business development for Spree.com, Thornton, Pa.

"It allows people who promote Spree.com to own that customer perpetually," he added.

Other Spree Independent Partners include CitySurf, CareerMag, the National Adoption Center and other Web sites and organizations that refer users to the site. Spree.com sells flowers, books and gifts in a mall-type environment through relationships with traditional distributors.

LINKSHARE NETWORK LAUNCHES

"This lets us maintain our relationship with our users and not just jump them to another site," said Patrick Connolly, president of Stockpoint, referring to the custom bookstore Spree.com will develop with Stockpoint's input.

Another new electronic commerce linking program is LinkShare Network, which was launched Oct. 1 by LinkShare Corp., New York.

Rather than building online malls and offering referring sites a share of the profits, LinkShare provides a network that links online merchants with Web sites that want to participate in a referral program.

"Everybody maintains control over their expertise," said Heidi Messer, president of LinkShare.

LinkShare's merchant partners include FAO Schwartz, Reader's Digest Association, Avon Products, Omaha Steaks International, L'Eggs Products and other retailers.

Chris Stevens, electronic commerce analyst for Aberdeen Group, Boston, said these types of linking programs are a good alternative for smaller sites that can't afford to advertise on highly-trafficked sites.

"It's a link instead of an advertisement," said Mr. Stevens. "It doesn't have the inherent brand exposure [of a banner ad]. You click on the offer and end up on a Web site somewhere."

Copyright October 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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