E-Tailing Briefs

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Best Buy Selling Its First Hardware Product Online
Best Buy has moved another step closer to selling consumer electronics online. On May 24, the superstore quietly began offering the Rio PMP300 MP3 player via its web site, www.bestbuy.com. A Best Buy spokesperson confirmed that the player -- which carried an online price tag of $249.95 -- represents the first hardware product to be sold by the company through cyberspace, supplementing the CDs and DVDs that it had trafficked in to date. The move follows the appointment in April of John Walden, former COO of online grocer Peapod.com, as president of Best Buy's e-commerce division, and the development last month of a new e-business platform that can accommodate expanded sales and SKUs. Arch rival Circuit City said it would begin offering 700 CE products online this month.

Federated/Fingerhut Building E-Commerce Service Empire
What do Wal-Mart, eToys, Macys.com, Levi's, Intuit and Roxy.com all have in common? They're among 22 e-commerce companies being cyber-serviced by Fingerhut Business Services Inc. (FBSI), a new e-commerce fulfillment division of the popular catalog company that was purchased by Federated Department Stores last spring. According to Federated vice chairman Ronald Tysoe, FBSI represents a natural extension of Fingerhut's extensive fulfillment and distribution capabilities, and an opportunity to "further maximize our return on investment from the Fingerhut acquisition." Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, is the latest addition to FBSI's client roster, which also includes such Fingerhut joint ventures as PC Flowers & Gifts, The Zone Network, FreeShop.com and Hand Technologies.

Feds Likely To Impose Taxes On Internet Sales By 2002
Members of a congressional Internet tax study panel meeting last month in Williamsburg, Va., were nearly unanimous in their call for federal and state levies on consumer e-commerce transactions. Echoing the opening statements of 17 of the commission's 19 members, Treasury Department official Joseph Guttentag said, "We must not allow the Internet to become a tax haven that drains the revenue governments need to provide the services that citizens demand." Panelists also concurred that an Internet sales tax system must be as simple as possible to reduce the cost of compliance, and should neither hinder the medium's explosive growth nor allow government access to private transactions. The commission must present a cyber tax policy to Congress by April, while a three-year moratorium on new federal, state and local e-commerce taxes expires in October 2001.


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