AOL, Office Depot Ally to Reach Small Businesses

In the latest alliance between an online player and a “clicks and bricks” e-tailer, America Online Inc. and Office Depot on Thursday inked a five-year, $44-million agreement to create a co-branded site and cross-market one another.

America Online, and to a lesser extent Yahoo and Microsoft , have lately been teaming with well-established offline companies to help them with their online efforts, and take advantage of their real world distribution systems. Yahoo is working with the likes of Pepsi and Kmart. Microsoft has a deal with, and an investment in Tandy Corp., which operates the RadioShack stores. And AOL recently struck a deal with Coca-Cola.

The Office Depot/AOL deal calls for the two companies to create a co-branded site, to be integrated into Netscape Netcenter’s business area, aimed at small business customers. Besides offering business-related content and programming, the site will offer buying guides, directories, and bundled product and service offerings.

Office Depot is getting placements in AOL’s shopping destinations and small business areas across several AOL brands — Netscape Netcenter, AOL, AOL.com, CompuServe and Digital City.

The office supplies company has agreed to promote AOL products and services across all of its sales channels, including its more than 800 retail stores. Computers in Office Depot stores will feature AOL, including its narrowband and broadband service. The company will also offer AOL software and in-store registration.

Office Depot has also agreed to integrate AOL into its print and television ad campaigns, as well as its Web site.

Financial terms of the agreement weren’t disclosed.

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