Amazon.com has opened its doors to third party merchants eager to get in front of the online bookseller's 12 million strong customer base.
Zshops will feature merchandise from a variety of vendors, large and small, but with a special focus on unusual items not easily found at other online shopping malls.
Amazon would not comment on whether the service will available through its international Web sites which includes Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.de.
Said Amazon founder and chief executive, Jeff Bezos: "We're delighted to welcome the thousands of companies and individuals - hobbyists, speciality retailers, entrepreneurs, inventors - anyone with something interesting to offer."
Although users have complained that online malls are cumbersome and difficult to navigate, the company believes Zshops differ because it will handle the payment services for all merchants. Amazon has also developed an All Products Search engine that will identify where users can purchase a specified item anywhere on the Web, even at rival shopping destinations.
Said Bezos, "Our goal is to build a place where customers can go to find and discover anything they might want to buy online. With All Products Search, if we don't have it, we'll still try to help you find it."
Amazon will charge vendors $9.95 a month and a small percentage of sales to sell via the site. The company stresses that consumers' credit card details will reside only within its own servers because it will handle all payments, both from the consumer and to the merchant. For this service, Amazon plans to collect 60 cents per transaction, plus 4.75 per cent of the money spent.
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