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Starbucks, Williams-Sonoma Map Internet Strategies

Retailers Starbucks Coffee Co. and Williams-Sonoma Inc. plan major Internet initiatives for later this year. Both companies say they can acquire online customers more cheaply than Web-only startups.

Starbucks says it will launch a Web portal later this year, with as-yet-unspecified lifestyle content and products other than coffee, which Starbucks already sells online at http://www.starbucks.com. Starbucks made its first content move this month with the launch of Joe, a magazine and Web site (http://www.joemag.com), in collaboration with Time Warner Inc.

Williams-Sonoma plans a more straightforward E-commerce approach: In October, it will launch a Web site that will offer many of its mail-order catalog items. It will add a site to sell the products of its Pottery Barn unit in the first quarter of next year. Earlier this month, it launched a bridal registry site (http://www.wswedding.com).

The retailer is working with Web-services provider USWeb/CKS to integrate its E-commerce site with the same applications that run its store and catalog operations.

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