With Purchase of Woot, a Daily Deal Site, Amazon Expands Its Inventory

By CLAIRE CAIN MILLER
full feature at http://www.nytimes.com/technology

Amazon.com, which sells millions of products, said Wednesday that it had agreed to buy Woot, a site that sells one item at a time.

Woot is one of a cluster of unconventional shopping sites that have sprung up in the last few years in the biggest flurry of e-commerce innovation since Amazon and eBay began.

The tactics they use to lure shoppers would puzzle traditional retailers. Some, like Woot, sell just one item a day or, like Groupon, cancel the entire deal if not enough people buy in. Others, like Gilt, restrict access to anyone who is not a member, although membership is free to all.

For shoppers, a site like Woot can feel like a game in which they compete against the clock and others huddled at their computers looking for the best deal. For retailers, the sites are a quick way to unload excess inventory and introduce new customers to their brands.

Woot, which started in 2004 and has 2.75 million registered users, was one of the first sites to offer a single item that is available for 24 hours or until it is sold out. On Wednesday, for example, Woot sold iPod Nanos for $99.99, less than the $122.54 price at Amazon. In addition to consumer electronics, Woot now sells wine, toys and T-shirts. Amazon, which became Woot’s only outside investor in 2006, said it expected the acquisition to close in the third quarter. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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