KMART E-COMMERCE EFFORT TO INCLUDE YAHOO
Byline: Thomas Cunningham
NEW YORK — Kmart Corp. is expected to announce plans today for an Internet-related venture with Yahoo, the online media company.
Kmart said Tuesday it would make an e-commerce announcement this morning, but a spokeswoman declined to elaborate.
Jeffrey Mallet, president and chief operating officer of Yahoo, is reportedly scheduled to attend the press conference, but a Yahoo spokeswoman declined comment.
“What it tells me is that these guys [Kmart] are determined not to lose business to others just because they’re not strong on the Internet,” said Ulysses Yannas, an analyst at Buckman, Buckman & Reid.
There is speculation that Wal-Mart Stores, one of Kmart’s most formidable competitors, is planning a similar venture with America Online.
An arrangement between Kmart and Yahoo would be expected to include a co-branded deal to offer free Internet access to Kmart’s customers, according to published reports. Reportedly, Kmart has been developing a brand new Web site, Bluelight.com, in conjunction with Softbank Venture Capital, a division of Yahoo’s biggest single shareholder, the Japanese firm Softbank Corp.
On Tuesday, a visit to Bluelight.com brought up a white screen bearing the text: “Something exciting and fun is on the way . . .” Kmart already operates an online store at K-mart.com. Although Kmart.com carries no apparel, it stocks merchandise in categories like health and beauty, jewelry, housewares and sporting goods. Kmart also operates Kmart Solutions, a network of 1,200 in-store kiosks that allows customers to shop electronically.
On Tuesday, Kmart shares gained 5/8 to close at 12 1/8 on the New York Stock Exchange. Yahoo shares fell 17 15/16 to close at 333 1/8 in over-the-counter trading.