August 30, 2004, 12:00 AM

Beauty, music, cameras: The new line-up of Amazon stores

Amazon just won’t stop. Now it’s offering new merchandising categories for health-and- beauty, cameras and music.Its health-and-beauty section alone already has more than 40 sellers on featuring more than 20,000 products.

What do health products, cameras and musical instruments have in common? They are all new categories that Amazon.com Inc. has recently started offering to consumers. Amazon launched a Health & Beauty store in May and by August, the operation already had more than 40 sellers featuring more than 20,000 products, Tom Beckwith, Amazon vice president, told the eTail 2004 East conference in August.

Just as Amazon has had to learn new merchandising techniques with previous stores, so it had to learn some new tricks with Health & Beauty. Among the requirements were the need for true colors and shades, lots of product detail and more extensive categorization. “Labels are important,” Beckwith said, noting that lip products alone require a number of labels: “lipstick, lip stain, lip gloss and lip primer.”

In addition to Health & Beauty, Amazon is expanding into cameras, with such participants as Ritz Interactive, B&H; Photo and Office Depot. In cameras, 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 other products, what percent conducted further research, and so on.

A third new area for Amazon is musical instruments. It recently launched a beta 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.

Sears Roebuck and Co. also announced at the eTail East conference that it is expanding into the online sale of sporting goods with an agreement with GSI Commerce that will make 20,000 sporting goods items available at Sears.com. m

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