RealTime IT News

Amazon: Partners 'R' Us

Amazon.com's slogan is "Earth's Biggest Selection," but that doesn't necessarily mean Earth's biggest warehouse.

In fact, the company's senior veep for retail says that adding to that selection through partnerships is part of its long-term strategy, so more deals similar to Amazon's arrangements with Target Stores and Toys 'R' Us can be expected.

Speaking at the Goldman, Sachs Internet New Media and e-Commerce Conference in Las Vegas, Amazon's Diego Piacentini, senior vice president for worldwide retail and marketing at Amazon , touched on a variety of topics from pricing strategies to advertising.

"We are building partnerships for the long-term," he said, adding in effect that "the planet's biggest selection" doesn't all have to come from Amazon warehouses. In fact, some of it comes from Circuit City.

"We will invest in technology to allow partnerships to be established more quickly," Piacentini said.

He also said that Amazon's offer of free shipping on orders of $99 or more in the U.S. "is part of our long-term strategy -- we do see larger orders as a result." And he said that understanding how pricing works for customers "is a key strength of the company."

He defended the company's marketplace sales, saying that allowing users to sell pre-owned merchandise is "not cannibalizing our own sales, it's about offering the customer a wider variety of products, giving the customer a choice." The Author's Guild recently complained about the practice.

On the marketing front, Piacentini said that Amazon's 700,000 online affiliates are its strongest online marketing tool, and the company has been honing its e-mail CRM efforts, not sending as many and personalizing them more.

Off-line, he said "we are in many more circulars than last year, focused on consumer electronics ... we stopped doing direct mail because it didn't pay off." Some TV is also planned.

Seattle-based Amazon exceeded its pro forma operating profit goal for the first quarter, lowered some book prices and raised its financial guidance.