Opens zShops

Share this content:, Seattle, opened its doors this week to merchants who want to sell goods to customers who shop on its Web site. In essence, the move allows the online retailer to emerge from an online bookstore into a full-fledged shopping portal.

The initiative, called zShops, allows merchants to list up to 3,000 items on an area on Amazon's site. The merchants are charged $9.99 a month, and Amazon is paid a percentage of each sale. In addition, Amazon will gather huge amounts of information on the buying habits of consumers.

The company said 500,000 new products are currently available on the Web site.

Amazon also will allow merchants to use several of the marketing tools it has refined. For example, a small seller of Indian spices that is part of the program could have a link to its Web site pop up every time a customer calls up a CD-ROM by the satirist Ravi Shankar.

The company said it will exclude merchants from the program that it deems offensive, including sellers of guns, hate literature and hard-core pornography.

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