Amazon Unveils Outlet Mall

With an eye toward appealing to the bargain-hunting segment of the Web population,Amazon.com said Wednesday it will open an Internet outlet mall during the post-Christmas shopping week.

According to the company, the Amazon.com Outlet will provide online shoppers with a single location to shop for bargains, but will not offer cheaper prices than Amazon’s main site. Additionally,customers will finalize purchases through the normal Amazon checkout process.

Sneak Preview

In keeping with the tradition of after-Christmas markdowns, Amazon is officially opening its bargain basement on December 28th, the day when Amazon will add a link to the Outlet on its homepage. Selected Amazon customers were sent an advance e-mail invitation on Wednesday, inviting them to preview the site and provide their feedback.

As a reward for offering input, shoppers will be given a bonus code worth US$10 off a $50 purchase at the site. According to spokesman Curt Anderson,the invitation was sent to a cross-section of loyal Amazon customers.

Big Picture

Despite its positioning as a “bargain basement,” Amazon Outlet does offer discounts on some big-ticket items. For instance, a Sharp DV-L70U Portable DVD-Video Player that retails for $1,499 is being sold for $899.88. The price for the same DVD player elsewhere on the Web ranges from $929.99 to $1,395.

However, on another big-ticket item, the Sony KP-48S75 projection TV, discount e-tailer Crazy Eddie’s beats Amazon’s price of $1,599.88 by more than $200.

New Low

Amazon, like other dot-coms, has been feeling the pinch of an unfriendly market in recent days.Amazon shares plunged dramatically to $16.69 Wednesday, its lowest price since October 1998.

However, so far this year, Amazon appears to be holding on to its e-tail lead. The site attracted more visitors than any other during the first four weeks of the holiday shopping season, according to Nielsen//NetRatings, and the company is also the number one Net advertiser, according to a recent report released by AdRelevance.

Goldman Sachs analyst Anthony Noto apparently agrees, writing in a research noteMonday that “Amazon continues to have leading market share and positive trends in traffic this quarter. We do not believe Amazon is immune to an unfavorable environment, but that it has several advantages that allow it to navigate the choppy waters.”

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