Updated from 8:41 a.m. to include commentary of the announcement in the fourth paragraph.
NEW YORK (TheStreet) –– Amazon (AMZN) , intent on ruling all of retail, unveiled a new "Make an Offer" feature that is designed to allow people to haggle over prices on items like they would in a store.
Amazon's new feature, which allows customers to make offers on more than 150,000 items (Amazon said more are coming later), will allow for price haggling on items such as sports and entertainment collectibles, collectible coins and fine art.
Amazon.com teams up with Steiner Sports; watch the video below for details:
Customers can select the item they want to buy, and if the listed price doesn't work for them (say you really want that baseball signed by Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig but won't pay $9,950 for it), buyers can select the "Make an Offer" option on the right side of the page, enter a price they think is fair and submit it to the seller. Once the seller receives the price from the customer, he can either accept, reject or negotiate another price via email, until the transaction is complete. Once the seller agrees to a final price, the buyer will get an email saying the price has been accepted, and the item is placed in the shopping cart for purchase.
Steve Beck, Founder and Managing Partner of management consultancy cg42, believes that Amazon is doing this to drive sales in niche categories. "I see this as Amazon driving sales in niche categories where independent vendors run the risk of pricing themselves out of the market (this is currently limited to 150,000 items in the collectibles and fine arts section)," Beck said in an emailed statement. "Amazon is simply introducing the ability to haggle online, not going down the auction path. I expect this to approach to remain limited to niche, independent vendor categories and therefore, see this as Amazon being responsive to its merchant community, not changing the way it approaches competition."
"The new 'Make an Offer' experience is a game-changer for Amazon customers looking for great prices on one-of-a-kind items, and for sellers looking to communicate and negotiate directly with customers in an online marketplace environment just like they do normally in their own physical store or gallery," said Peter Faricy, vice president for Amazon Marketplace, in a press release. "In a recent survey of our sellers, nearly half of the respondents told us that the ability to negotiate prices with customers would be important to drive more sales on Amazon. 'Make an Offer' delivers that functionality and makes customers feel confident they are getting an item they want at the lowest price possible."
Amazon is adamant that "make an Offer" isn't an auction, like what takes place on eBay's (EBAY) Marketplace. Instead, it's a one-to-one private negotiation between a customer and seller that is designed, according to Amazon, "to lower prices, and a customer negotiating with a seller will never pay more than the listed price."
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