LookSmart and iEscrow Team Up To Help Small E-Commerce Players

LookSmart Ltd., a Web directory and search tool, and iEscrow Inc., a provider of online escrow services, announced today that they have teamed up to distribute a new tool that will make it easier for webmasters and smaller sites to accept transactions online. The Buy It! Button, recently developed by iEscrow and distributed by LookSmart, enables users to accept credit card and cash orders online with no upfront investment or flat rate service charges.

Pay As You Go

The new product eliminates the financial risk to small e-marketeers because they are only charged fees for the service when transactions are completed. LookSmart will distribute the Buy It! Button from its Beseen Web site, a destination known by webmasters because of its free site development tools. All transactions initiated with the Buy It! Button will be completed by iEscrow.

Both companies foresee a large market for the product.

“LookSmart has the foresight to realize that more than 10 million small Web sites and personal Web pages are evolving into forums for active selling,” said Sanjay Bajaj, iEscrow’s vice president of marketing and business development.

How It Works

The Buy It! Button is a virtual tool that a user assigns to a product on a Web site or message board in order to accept online orders and credit card payments. The button itself is a piece of code the user receives by e-mail after registering on LookSmart’s Beseen Web site.

Upon receipt of the e-mail, the user can then copy and paste the code into the HTML code of a Web site — or into the text window of a message board service with HTML compatibility. The tool protects both merchants and customers by leveraging iEscrow as the trusted third party. iEscrow collects the payment from the buyer, holding the funds in escrow before giving the merchant the go-ahead to shop the purchased merchandise. The payment for the merchandise is only released to the seller once the buyer has received shipment and had the opportunity to examine the product.

While the concept sounds promising, and there seems to be a market for this service, industry experts are quick to point out such companies as Reston, Virginia-based CyberCash Inc. had difficulty in selling a similar concept several years ago.

About the Companies

The privately held LookSmart is based in San Francisco, California. Its Web directory and search engine offers keyword matches and distributes online content in about 60,000 subject categories. Its 180-plus team of editors reviews every site in an effort to exclude hate or pornographic listings. Last year, LookSmart lost $12.9 million (U.S.$) on revenue of $8.4 million.

San Mateo, California-based iEscrow is a large provider of online escrow services for auctions, unbranded retailers and classifieds.

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