January 19, 2001, 12:00 AM

Staples selects be free as technology and services provider to build and grow its affiliate sales channel

Don Davis

Editor in Chief

Be Free, Inc., the leading provider of affiliate sales channel technology, services and knowledge, today announced an agreement with Staples Inc. (NASDAQ: SPLS), the world's largest operator of office superstores.
  Through this relationship, Be Free will serve as Staples.com's exclusive affiliate program provider, enabling Staples.com to sell products on thousands of high profile affiliate websites.
  "This agreement with Be Free is part of our strategic plan to grow Staples.com's business by partnering with experts in the Internet space," said Jeff Levitan, senior vice president of Staples.com. "Be Free's technology and services allow us to easily establish and maintain relationships with leading content sites that already reach our target business customer."
  Using the Be Free solution, Staples.com establishes online storefronts on its affiliates' websites, strategically marketing specific merchandise that is presented in context. This gives Staples.com an entirely new sales channel to market its goods and services.
  Affiliates earn commissions for each product sold through their web sites. Staples.com will also maximize the performance of its affiliate marketing programs through Be Free's beSMART(sm) methodology which provides online merchants with timely market intelligence on affiliate programs, enabling increased results through this strategic marketing initiative.
  "There is a huge market for business supplies, and selling them in context on affiliate websites is a logical extension of Staples.com's online retailing effort," said Gordon Hoffstein, president and CEO of Be Free, Inc. "Using Be Free's technology and services, Staples.com will easily be able to increase its traffic and sales without having to build its affiliate program from scratch."

About Staples.com
  Launched in the fall of 1998, Staples.com is Staples' e-commerce business unit that serves the home office and small business customer via the Internet. The virtual store offers easy-to-use, customized features and intuitive functions to slash the cost and hassle out of purchasing office supplies. More than 6,000 products are available on Staples.com and it is open for business 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Customers receive free delivery on all orders over $50 and next-business day delivery is available in most U.S. markets.

About Staples
  Staples Inc. is a $7 billion retailer of office supplies, furniture and technology to consumers and businesses from home-based businesses to Fortune 50 companies in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Germany. Headquartered outside Boston, Staples invented the office superstore concept and today is the largest operator of office superstores in the world. The company has over 44,000 employees serving customers through more than 950 office superstores, mail order catalogs, e-commerce and a contract business. More information about the company is available at http://www.staples.com.

About Be Free, Inc.
  Be Free, Inc. is the leading provider of online affiliate sales channel technology, services and knowledge. Be Free is the industry's pioneer of the merchant-branded affiliate sales channel, enabling online retailers to capture revenue by selling products in context on affiliate websites. With more than 750,000 affiliates in their sales channels, Be Free's clients include the Internet's leading merchants such as barnesandnoble.com (NYSE:BKS), American Greetings(NYSE:AM), Electronic Newsstand, Reel.com (NASDAQ:HLYW) and Network Solutions (NASDAQ:NSOL). Affiliates can enroll in affiliate programs using Be Free's technology with FastApp(sm), located at:http://www.reporting.net/networks/affiliates/bf_fast_app. The company's product offerings include the BFAST(sm) affiliate sales channel technology and the BFIT(sm) targeted advertising delivery system. Founded in 1996, Be Free has offices in Marlborough, MA and Pittsburgh, PA. For more information, visit Be Free's web site at http://www.befree.com.

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