December 8, 1998 4:35 PM PST

Amazon.com to offer links to other retailers

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Amazon.com today launched a service that lets its users shop other sites on the Web using the company's Junglee comparison-shopping technology, a move that brings Amazon closer to becoming a portal for Web shoppers.

"We want to be a leading destination for e-commerce where people can buy almost anything they want to buy on the Net," said spokesman Bill Curry, repeating a goal that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos outlined in August when it acquired Junglee, the company that developed the shopping agent.

The shopping service, which is available by clicking on the words "Shop the Web'' on Amazon's home page, offers lists of prices for electronics, clothing, travel, computer hardware and toys, and other goods available on the Internet. Consumers may then chose the Web site offering the lowest price.

The service links to the Web sites for retailers such as Cyberian Outpost for computer hardware and The Gap for clothing.

A report in The New York Times yesterday stated that Amazon will allow customers to use the shopping agent to find items on participating sites, even those that directly compete with Amazon in the book, music and video space. Amazon, according to the report, would earn revenues by taking a cut from each sale referred from its site.

"The New York Times had some things right and some things wrong," said Curry. "We have not publicly talked about what the business model is."

Bezos said last summer that Amazon would extend Junglee capabilities beyond price comparison to finding items for sale on the Net.

The purchase of Junglee caused a lot of head-scratching in August as observers wondered why Amazon would buy a technology that could lead users to its competitors, who may offer lower prices. Curry said today that Junglee fits in with Amazon's strategy to become a destination point for Web shoppers. He downplayed Junglee's ability to find similar items at lower prices, and said the technology's main value to Amazon is that "it could be used to a higher value--just generally locating stuff."

The main goal, Curry said, is "to get expert advice from our customers by involving them in a Web-shopping experience," he added.

Bloomberg News contributed to this report

 

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