Opens Promotional Space for Bidding

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Discarding flat fees for promotional placements, wants sellers to bid for prime space on its auctions and zShops Web pages, according to a company announcement this week.

For a minimum daily participation fee of 5 cents per level, sellers can bid for the Amazon Auctions home page or other categories.

Called Bid for Featured Placement, this feature is designed as a flexible merchandising tool. Sellers can raise their bids at any time by any amount to occupy the most valuable real estate on Amazon's pages.

"[This] is a way to continue to offer our sellers a set of promotional tools and help them sell more merchandise, attract more bids, achieve higher prices and essentially help them reach our customers," said Jeff Blackburn, general manager at Amazon Auctions.

This new ploy arguably is an incentive to lure sellers away from listing on Amazon rivals eBay and Yahoo Auctions. The three control almost 95 percent of all online auctions, according to industry estimates.

EBay is said to account for 75 percent to 88 percent of online auctions. Amazon, so far the leader in books, wants to boost its credibility with sellers through the new fee structure for promotional placements.

Previously, it cost $99.95 to feature an item on the Amazon Auctions home page and $14.95 for the category page.

As an incentive under the new scheme, the higher the seller's bid, the higher the placement appears in the category listings, on the auctions home page and in search results. In addition, when sellers use Bid for Featured Placement, Amazon will highlight their listing with a "Featured" icon.

Blackburn is confident that this new form of bidding for merchandising space won't clog the pertinent Amazon pages.

"It won't clutter pages, and we won't run out of room," he said. "In fact, it reduces clutter because it helps people identify featured items."

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