Staples Gets Serious About E-Commerce - InformationWeek

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Staples Gets Serious About E-Commerce

Staples Inc. will inject $10 million into its online arm, Staples.com, and elevate it to the status of a separate business unit to show how bullish the company is on electronic commerce.

Staples will spend the $10 million in 1999 on personnel, technology, and marketing for Staples.com, its E-commerce Web site launched last month. Jeff Levitan, previously senior VP for strategic planning and business development, has been appointed the new head of Staples.com.

While creating a separate business unit is largely symbolic, the company asserts that the move underlines its ambition to get serious about E-commerce.

In a separate move, the office-supplies retailer is paying $140 million in cash to acquire Claricom Holdings Inc., a telco that provides services to small businesses.

Claricom, in Milford, Conn., provides more than 100,000 companies nationwide with PBX systems, voice messaging, automated call-distribution systems, and other network services. The privately held company will become a unit of Staples, and its products will be sold through Staples' traditional sales channels, but not over the Web.

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