GiftCertificates.com Lands Shop@AOL Deal

Just in time for the holiday season, a pact with America Online gives GiftCertificates.com distribution to AOL members, allowing them to order, distribute and redeem on- and offline gift certificates on the e-commerce portions of the online service’s properties.

GiftCertificates.com is an online buying and redemption center for online gift certificates, and a provider of transaction technologies and services.

Wednesday’s deal with AOL will allow visitors to AOL and AOL.com’s Shop@AOL area to purchase and give gift certificates through a co-branded certificate site. The site will feature GiftCertificate.com merchant partners, which include Sam Goody, Macy’s, and others. Other AOL properties including CompuServe, Netscape Netcenter and Digital City will include or link to the site as well.

The gift certificates can be sent to recipients electronically or by postal mail.

“Online gift certificates are growing in popularity — they save time, are easy to use, and allow gift recipients the flexibility of choosing the perfect present for themselves,” said Patrick Gates, vice president of e-commerce for Dulles, Va.-based AOL.

“We look forward to working with GiftCertificates.com to offer our members this easy way to shop for friends and family, in addition to providing our merchant partners with an easy way to offer gift certificates to their shoppers.”

Shop@AOL merchants participating in the digital certificates program include CircuitCity.com, Old Navy, and Petopia.com. Additionally, Shop@AOL merchants that do not currently provide digital gift certificates will be offered Silicon Alley-based GiftCertificates.com’s technology.

Consumers also can purchase what the companies term a “ShopSuperCertificate,” a non-specific certificate redeemable only on the co-branded site for purchases.

Financial terms of the multi-year deal were not disclosed.

“We are delighted to team with AOL to create this convenient service for AOL shoppers and to be able to provide a unique, value-added offering for its online merchants, ” said GiftCertificates.com chief executive Michael Ahern. “We are particularly pleased that this alliance allows GiftCertificates.com and its participating merchants the opportunity to help meet the gift-giving needs of the millions of AOL members and visitors who use Shop@AOL.”

The deal is also boost for GiftCertificates.com, which is looking to expand its merchant base and its brand.

Despite a lengthy client roster that includes several well-known brands, the firm competes in an industry with few barriers to entry. In its IPO filings in July, GiftCertificates.com indicated that a majority of its revenue came from the company’s top six merchant partners.

Earlier this month the company appointed former chief operating officer Ahern to CEO, bumping company founder Jonas Lee into the post of vice chairman of the company’s board.

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