Electronics Or Toys? It's Amazon.com

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Amazon.com made more space on its online shelves for consumer electronics and toys yesterday, in its latest foray away from bookselling and toward becoming the ultimate Internet superstore.


The launch of Amazon.com Electronics and Amazon.com Toys & Games follows a company-conducted poll that shows 55 percent of shoppers would prefer to buy electronics and toys online due to the rigors of purchasing from bricks-and-mortar stores.


"It's not unexpected; they've been rumored to be in that space for sometime," said Alan Alper, analyst at Gomez Advisors Inc. in Concord, MA. "It certainly fits into the Wal-Mart-of-the-Internet mindset that they've been operating under."


The new product lines add to such Amazon.com offerings as books, music, video, auctions, software, pet food, and drugs. The online marketer last year recorded revenues of $610 million, though the bulk was accounted by its mainstay bookselling business. It has yet to post a profit.


Consumers browsing Amazon.com's electronics section will now be able to choose from a range of products that includes CD players to cameras to home audio equipment, phones, TVs, VCRs, printers and computer add-ons, among others.


In the toy store, online shoppers will find an array of popular products usually found in superstores as well as specialty toys from small toymakers. Brands retailed include Crayola, Barbie, Fisher-Price, Milton Bradley and Lego, plus specialty toys like Chicco and Rokenbok.


Though the online market for electronics is fragmented, the Internet toys category is dominated by etoys.com and toysrus.com.


Amazon.com said the new stores offer consumers convenience, broad selection and pertinent information directs them to the right products. It claims low prices, though Gomez's Alper disputes that.


"The question I have is, what do they bring to the party?" Alper said. "They've got a bunch of entrenched operators in the [online] marketplace [in electronics and toys]. It's certainly not on price. And, does the Amazon brand name translate to this marketplace?"
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