Amazon tests catalog listings

Not content to be an online superstore, Amazon.com has become a catalog mall as well. The Seattle-based marketer began testing more than 1,000 “peeper” catalogs in eight categories on May 22, says spokesperson Carrie Peters.

Visitors to Amazon.com don’t link to the actual online catalogs. Instead, they click to mini-catalogs from merchants such as Tiffany & Co., Calyx & Corolla, and Brisky Pet Products and must call a toll-free number displayed on the site to order products or a paper catalog.

The catalog displays are free during the testing period, Peters says, and the service is “open to any catalog.” Categories featured are arts and hobbies, pet toys, industrial supplies, medical supplies, science supplies, lifestyle, car parts and home furnishings. “We felt these categories were areas that aren’t easy for customers to find online,” Peters says. “Amazon wants to be the place where people can find, discover and buy anything they want to online.”

Peters would not say precisely what the Seattle-based online behemoth is testing, other than “customer interest.” But Amazon has done well in the past charging retailers for the opportunity to market to its 26 million customers.

Amazon is not yet profitable and has been unsuccessful at reducing its debt. For the first quarter of 2002, the company trimmed its net loss to $23.2 million from $234.1 million for the first quarter of 2001. Revenue rose from $700.4 million to $847.4 million.

A restaurant-listing service also debuted May 22.

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