August 5, 2004, 12:00 AM

Amazon launches two stores in beta tests, with more on the way

Amazon is beta testing Health & Beauty and Musical Instruments stores. “We will continue to roll out stores and continue to go deeper into the areas we’re already in,” Amazon vice president Tom Beckwith told the eTail conference.

Kurt Peters

Executive Editor

Amazon’s newest store-Health & Beauty, launched in May-has more than 40 sellers featuring more than 20,000 products, Tom Beckwith, Amazon vice president, told the eTail 2004 East conference this week. The new store presents challenges that are different from challenges that other stores present and that required Amazon to upgrade its platform, Beckwith said.

Among the requirements were the need for true colors and shades, lots of product detail and more extensive categorization. “Labels are important,” he said, “especially labels such as lipstick, lip stain, lip gloss and lip primer.”

Beyond Health & Beauty, Amazon, No. 1 in Internet Retailer’s Top 300 Guide to online web sites, is expanding into other categories. One of the newest is cameras, with such participants as Ritz Interactive, B&H; Photo and Office Depot. In camera, also, Amazon has made changes to how it operates by deploying a new merchandising feature that reports what shoppers did after they viewed certain products. The feature reports, for instance, what percent purchased the product, what percent purchased products, what percent conducted further research, and so on.

A third new area for Amazon is musical instruments. Its recently launched a best test of a musical instruments store that features over 2,000 guitars and more than 2,000 band and orchestra instruments.

Those three expansions and the rollout of a jewelry store after a beta test that started last fall are indicative of Amazon’s strategy, Beckwith said. “We will continue to roll out stores and continue to go deeper into the areas we’re already in,” he said.



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