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Lycos beefs up e-commerce services

The portal intends to become a transaction point for Web consumers by integrating new shopping services throughout its network of Web sites.

Web portal Lycos today launched its most concerted effort to become a major e-commerce player.

With LycoShop the company will integrate new shopping services throughout its network of Web sites, such as home page communities Tripod and Angelfire, and its HotBot search directory.

The site, which went live today, will aggregate retailer links and consumer reviews by Epinions. LycoShop also will feature a shopping incentive program powered by Netcentives and an online wallet. Its partners include Barnesandnoble.com, the Sharper Image, Crate & Barrel, Crutchfield, REI, and Neiman Marcus.

The service comes months after the scrapping of a planned merger with Barry Diller's USA Networks, in which Lycos would have become the central hub to purchase goods from USA's e-commerce sites, such as Ticketmaster Online and the Home Shopping Network.

Ron Sege, executive vice president of Lycos, said 40 percent of all Lycos users search for products and services. But he noted that Lycos would not become an online retailer with physical inventory, such as Amazon.com.

"We're not a merchant of record," said Sege. "We're matching buyers with sellers of goods and services."

In addition, the site will host services for small businesses. Other Web portals, such as Yahoo, offer similar services.

Lycos will generate revenue by collecting a 1 to 2 percent fee for every transaction completed through the site and through fees from its hosting service.

The company will promote the service through an advertising campaign that will cost "several million dollars," Sege added.

Sege would not disclose terms for partnerships with other Web services.