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Amazon Unveils Custom Selling Programs

Online retailer Amazon.com  said it will offer its lauded fulfillment capabilities to lure small- and medium-sized businesses (SMB).

With nearly one-third of Amazon sales coming from small companies, the retailer said it is offering Fulfillment by Amazon, which includes everything from storing a product to providing customer service.

"Fulfillment by Amazon frees online sellers from the time and money required to store, pick, pack, ship and provide customer service," Amazon said in a statement.

Participating third-party sellers displaying a Fulfillment by Amazon icon next to their products will be able to offer consumers Amazon Prime and Free Super Saver Shipping options, Joe Walowski, program manager of Fulfillment by Amazon, told internetnews.com.

That freedom comes at a price, however. Sellers are assessed 50 cents per item and 40 cents per pound for handling fees, plus 45 cents per square foot to cover storage costs.

Another service, WebStore by Amazon, is geared for sellers looking to operate their own e-commerce site -- with the dependability of Amazon's back-end technology.

WebStore allows sellers to maintain a privately-branded site complete with its own URL and customized graphics, along with inventory and sales management by Amazon.

Sellers have the option of selecting a pre-made Web site design. In addition, customers can use their existing Amazon.com accounts, according to a statement.

WebStore by Amazon users pay a $59.95 monthly fee, plus a seven percent commission, which covers credit card processing and fraud protection.

In addition to these two Amazon programs, the Internet retailer announced a new service for independent music artists.

CustomFlix CD on Demand offers musicians a way to reach their audiences without the need for a major label.

"Musicians are always looking to break into the market without burning 10,000 CDs," explained Sean Sundwall, an Amazon spokesperson.

Teaming with CustomFlix, a wholly-owned Amazon subsidiary, the service lets artists sell to Amazon customers without the need for an inventory. CDs are created and shipped only when purchased.

"CustomFlix CD on Demand is a great service for independent musicians and labels because it provides an easy and inexpensive way to gain exposure to millions of people on Amazon.com, Aaron Martin, Amazon's director of Print and Disc on Demand Services, said in a statement.

The new on-demand service follows DVD on Demand, also offered by Amazon.

Earlier this month, the company unveiled Amazon Unbox, a new service offering DVD downloads of popular television episodes and movies.