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Yahoo! Launches New Shopping Network

Moving decisively onto the pure-play e-commerce scene, Yahoo! Inc. launched both a new, integrated shopping network and a new discount shopping platform called Yahoo! Warehouse.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Web portal said it has integrated its U.S. commerce operations, adding that its search capability will combine results from across all of them -- Auctions, Shopping, Classifieds and Warehouse.

Yahoo!, which reported financial results last week that were affected by the continuing decline in online advertising, would appear to be taking dead aim at both Amazon and eBay with what appears to be a very serious e-commerce effort.

The new Yahoo! Shopping is a place where "consumers can shop and compare merchandise from popular brand-name retailers, auctions and warehouse sellers, large and small merchants, as well as local items found in classifieds, the company said.

The Warehouse operation will offer used, overstocked and clearance commodity goods such as movies and books, games, computers and electronics at discounted prices.

"We are pleased, after extensive market research and consumer outreach, to offer shoppers one comprehensive commerce site and to provide merchants and sellers with greater access to and visibility with ... (a large) buying audience on the Web," said Tim Brady, senior vice president for network services at Yahoo!

The company touted its numbers in the announcement, claiming 19 million unique shopping visitors per month. If one assumes that every visitor to Amazon is a shopper, the e-tail giant had 21 million visitors in September, according to the latest Jupiter Media Metrix figures. eBay had 22 million.

Regardless of who claims the bragging rights, the move clearly is in Yahoo!'s best interest. Although the company is considered a leading barometer of the online ad industry, it attributed much of its success in meeting before-charges profitability estimates for the third quarter to premium and business services -- that is, paid areas and technology services.

And any e-commerce revenues will certainly help out in the move to diversify the company's revenue stream.

Yahoo! said visitors to the shopping network can compare products, prices and the condition of items, as well as purchase options. Product searches conducted from any of Yahoo!'s commerce areas will generate results from each property with items from brand-name retailers in a number of vertical categories, as well as niche and specialty merchants, small businesses and individual sellers.

Sellers, meanwhile, "have an even greater opportunity to promote their listings to buyers shopping in other areas of the network who may not have considered bidding on an item previously," the company said. Additionally, Yahoo! Shopping merchants will now have the ability to merchandise their products direct to Yahoo! Auctions, Classifieds and Warehouse audiences.

Yahoo! said it anticipates launching the Warehouse area with more than two million listings from individuals and companies such as abebooks.com, AlphaCraze.com and TigerDirect.com. Also, Warehouse will allow sellers to list items at no cost, charging a commission fee that varies based on an item's selling price.