Foreword for

September 22, 2000

By Peter Neupert, President and CEO,, inc.

In these pages, Mitchell Levy spotlights three of the imperatives of the world of e-tailing - constant experimentation, collaborating with the right partners and keeping the customer at the center of every decision. We didn't have the benefit of his primer during the garage days but with the ever-sharp focus of hindsight, I can vouch that his imperatives are consistent with the guideposts we have followed in our quest to create personal relationships with consumers. Our team has learned every one of the lessons - we've made mistakes, we've stalked industry giants as partners, and we've committed thousands and thousands of hours to creating a superior customer experience. And with all of our accomplishments, we're still learning every day.

With a respect for and an intimate understanding of the many unknowns of the Web, Levy has written an insightful travelogue of emerging business principles. Will his words guide future entrepreneurs to success? No one can predict the evolution of the economy, yet I believe Levy is on target with his prescription for building a successful long-term business in today's fast-paced world: the winners must approach the endeavor holistically and comprehensively.

At, we focus our efforts on doing the best job we can, for our customers, partners and our investors. In less than two years, we have defined an entirely new Internet category and seized market leadership. By any measure, the tenets Levy discusses are working for us. We have more customers than our competitors, and we continue to show healthy growth in all areas of our business. Using technology in unprecedented ways, the™ team works daily to empower consumers to make better, more informed healthcare decisions.

As Levy prescribes in his discussion of the critical elements of a sustainable business model, constructed a network of strategic partnerships, meeting consumer demand at every point where consumers interact with their drugstore.

By leveraging the Internet to enhance the customer experience, we are achieving economies of scale through alliances that offer widespread access to millions of new customers as well as co-marketing opportunities with partners that consumers know and trust.

In addition, Levy emphasizes the value of failure. At no other time in my career - be it my role leading the development of the (ultimately) ill-fated OS/2 at Microsoft, to the first days of MSNBC - have the lessons been so marked in their immediacy and poignancy. Like most of the team at and many of our peers in the e-commerce world, I am attracted to solving problems. I love that this revolution has attracted some of the most passionate, dynamic and fearless personalities on the globe and I love that I have the chance to work with them everyday. No doubt, as you read Levy's chapters, you will feel a similar sense of familiarity or epiphany if you are working in the e-commerce world. For those who have yet to enter it, I suspect it will touch you sooner rather than later. And when it does, you will be glad for having read the fundamentals by Levy.