Pittsburgh - Airport retailer WHSmith recently unveiled a tech-savvy store concept that includes Internet-based book vending machines and multiple in-store video displays.

The concept, unveiled at Pittsburgh International Airport's Airmall, is called "WHSmith books.co." It's designed to use advanced technology to help improve shopping for airport travelers. WHSmith plans to roll out the new store design at airports across the United States.

The "Book.machine" kiosks are filled with bestsellers in much the same way that conventional vending machines are filled with candy or soft drinks. The self-pay kiosks, which are located just outside the store entrance, enable travelers to buy books 24 hours a day. They will be particularly useful for travelers with after-hours layovers or cancelled flights, WHSmith predicts. The concept also includes multiple in-store plasma screens designed to provide access to e-mail, reservations, book offers, maps and directions, and business and travel information. Some of that information is delivered in real time via a PC-based broadcast network system.

North Miami Beach, Fla. - Federal Realty Investment Trust may hire MyShoppingCenter.com to provide high-speed Internet access to at least 40 properties across the country. The Rockville, Md.-based equity REIT signed a letter of intent in August to pay the Miami dot.com $1 million for broadband Internet access and other services, MyShoppingCenter.com announced.

The deal will give Federal Realty a way to hard-wire its centers, provide high-speed Internet access and other services to its tenants, and create a new source of revenue, notes Federal Realty CIO Ron Kaplan. In July, MyShoppingCenter.com signed a letter of intent with Equity One Inc., one of the fastest-growing retail REITs in Florida, to bring all Equity One shopping centers online. Equity One's 3.1 million sq. ft. portfolio now includes 29 retail centers.

The MyShoppingCenter.com website will provide Equity One shoppers with online access to special offers and other information from their local shopping malls.

Atlanta - Acting as e-business alliance partners, Jones Lang LaSalle, CB Richard Ellis and Trammel Crow Co. recently selected SiteStuff.com as their primary Internet-based procurement service.

The companies even invested a total of $30 million in the Austin, Texas-based dot.com, according to Robert F. Welanetz, president and CEO of the Atlanta-based retail division of Jones Lang LaSalle.

SiteStuff.com helps owners and managers of commercial and multi-family properties streamline purchasing procedures by buying goods and services online. The company's platform includes a secure supplier and buyer marketplace.

Under the agreement, SiteStuff.com will provide the real estate consortium with the best possible purchasing terms available in the market.

The consortium estimates that through volume aggregation and the elimination of redundant suppliers, the cost of the goods and services it buys for its clients' United States properties could decline by up to 20% per transaction.

The consortium will serve as an advisor to SiteStuff.com, helping to shape the direction of its platform, Jones Lang LaSalle announced.

Davidson, N.C., and Los Angeles - MortgageRamp.com and PropertyFirst.com recently joined forces to offer fast-track commercial property sales and loan closings online.

MortgageRamp, a finance and lending site based in Davidson, and PropertyFirst, a property listing site based in Los Angeles, announced plans to launch the new service on both their websites.

PropertyFirst will provide property characteristics, financial information and various services to MortgageRamp customers, including lenders. In turn, buyers and brokers who use PropertyFirst will use the new service to arrange financing for property sales through MortgageRamp.

The companies say the net result will be expedited commercial property sales with more efficient pricing and faster closings.