Former Office Depot and Staples exec joins PowerReviews board

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PowerReviews is set to announce Jan. 23 the addition of retail industry veteran Paul Gaffney to its board of directors.

Mr. Gaffney is an e-commerce and operations executive formerly at Staples, Office Depot and Charles Schwab. He brings an understanding of multichannel retail and online merchandising to the Millbrae, CA-based consumer technology company at a time when it is building momentum and seeking more retail customers.

"I hope to be able to connect PowerReviews to more retailers and improve their relationship with retailers they work with currently," Mr. Gaffney said. "I have a lot of experience with large retailers and how they operate."

Mr. Gaffney is the chief operating officer at Desktone Inc., and he will remain in that position with the company, which is located outside of Boston.

Previously, he helped Office Depot establish a dominant position on the Web as one of the first traditional retailers to launch an e-commerce platform.

"I've always been fascinated with how people make purchasing decisions," Mr. Gaffney said.

He said that many consumers like to gather information from a trusted advisor and creating that type of researching experience online has been an historic challenge.

"You're less able to market your way to success [online] than in traditional marketing," Mr. Gaffney said, adding that Web 2.0 closes the gap between marketing and authenticity.

PowerReviews provides multichannel retailers with review and merchandising solutions that are customer-created. Its flagship offering is an aggregate and searchable database of user-submitted product feedback.

The site includes multiple brands and is therefore more authentic to the Web customer, suggested Mr. Gaffney.

"It's very difficult to create a private authentic community," he said.

Mr. Gaffney joins Mr. Chen along with Robert Chea, chief operating officer at PowerReviews, and John Jarve, managing director at Menlo Ventures on the board of directors.

PowerReview customers include TicketsNow, Ritz Camera, Abt Electronics, Journeys and Mountain Gear.

"I think that we're seeing a broader trend in retail of retailers trying to be more responsible to consumers and more responsive to what social trends are," Mr. Gaffney said.

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