Bargain-Basement Web Sites for Discover's Merchants
Keenan, Charles, American Banker
Discover Financial Services Inc. has struck a deal with an Internet directory service to help smaller merchants establish World Wide Web sites and drive traffic to them.
Under the arrangement with Switchboard Inc., Discover merchants can pay $40 to $50 a month for a basic Web site. Switchboard will design and maintain the site, which would include such information as driving directions to the store, names of people there, and product descriptions.
Switchboard will also display an on-line ad for the store to Web surfers who searched for related or nearby businesses.
Switchboard, a division of Banyan Systems Inc. of Westborough, Mass., operates an on-line directory of yellow- and white-pages-style information. The service processes more than 40 million Web searches a month.
Discover, a Riverwoods, Ill., subsidiary of Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co., has mainly focused on giving cardholders incentives to do business on the Web. Now it is turning its attention to retailers.
"We want to do things to help merchants get more business, and the Internet is certainly in the space where we want to do that," said Tom Dailey, senior vice president of Discover Financial Services. "It seemed natural that we would partner with somebody who could help them generate more sales."
The arrangement gives Switchboard a way to expand its advertising base and sell the Web-page services offered by Banyan. …