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Amazon's Marketplace comes to Europe

Amazon.com has added its Marketplace feature to the UK and German versions of its Web site, allowing users to buy and sell used and collectable items - such as books, video games and music - on the same page where the new item is being sold.

Seattle-based Amazon.com launched the US version of the marketplace in November 2000. Amazon said that marketplace sales accounted for 15% of all the company's orders in the autumn and winter.

Amazon.co.uk has more than three million active customers; that is, customer accounts from which at least one order has been placed within the past 12 months, the company said.

The company already offers a "Z-shops" service, allowing smaller retailers to sell used items, and it also has an auction facility. The benefit of the marketplace feature is that it allows for side-by-side comparison with new products, Amazon.com said.

When browsing for an item, users will see an indication on the Web page that a used or collectable version of the product is available. There is an option for users to offer their own used items or to request a used item if one is not already advertised on the site.

Those who want to sell items over Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.de must first register on the site by providing a name, e-mail address and credit card information to verify their identity, Amazon.com said.

Amazon.com charges a fee of 15% of the total price of the item as well as an additional closing fee of about 75p per item.

The seller, who must have a bank account and postal address in either the UK or Germany depending on which site the product is being sold on, will have an Amazon.com "payments" account set up. When Amazon.com receives payment from the buyer, the seller's account is credited and the company will transfer any payments received to the seller's bank account every two weeks.

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