Shoppers in some corners of Amazon can now haggle with sellers, turning parts of the world's biggest store into the world's largest bazaar.
The online marketing giant officially announced its new “Make An Offer” feature today.
The option will only appear in Amazon's Fine Art, Sport and Entertainment Collectibles and Coin markets. Sellers choose which items they want to open up for haggling.
This allows them to easily negotiate with their customers, said Peter Faricy, vice president of Amazon's Marketplace.
“These types of stores are already doing this in the physical world,” he said.
The functionality is different from the auction model of eBay because instead of starting at a base price and going up, it starts at a base price and goes down.
Currently more than 150,000 items are available with the Make An Offer option.
Only things priced over $100 are eligible. “We don't want people haggling over a $5 item,” Faricy said.
It's by no means a certainty for the buyer. Only about a quarter of customer offers are accepted, Amazon has found in its early tests.
"We've already seen it create sales for us,” said Bret Holcum, manager of Mill Creek Sports, a sports memorabilia store in Mill Creek, Wash. His store was a test site for the new functionality.
His Amazon storefront recently had a 1979 NY Yankee Team Autographed Baseball that was listed for $1,695. The customer offered $1,200. Holcum countered and the baseball finally sold for $1,450.
“I'll look up my costs, see what's reasonable and then make a counter offer,” he said.
So far he hasn't had anyone making “lowball” offers. He thinks it's going to drive a lot of sales because it allows his Amazon store to offer the same services that customers expect at his brick and mortar store.
“This is how our industry works. For some reason it goes hand-in-hand with our items,” he said.
Not all industries are like that. “You don't go into the Apple store and start dickering over the price of an iPad. But in our industry it's accepted so sometimes you build in a little wiggle room,” Holcum said.
Amazon is very clear that this new bargaining option is only for one-of-a-kind items. Don't expect to have to start negotiating every time you want to buy toothpaste or a new TV on the site, said Faricy.
With manufactured items “there's really a bottom for what people want to sell them for,” Faricy said.
In fine arts, the ability to engage in a negotiation over price with customers is key, said Donald Heald, owner of Donald Heald Prints and Books in Manhattan.
The Make An Offer button levels the playing field for customers to a certain extent, he said.
Clients who come to his store have always engaged in discussions over price, but that wasn't really possible online without a lot of clunky emails back and forth.
Now he can do it in his online storefront.
“We might have something listed at $200 and someone would say 'Would you take $125?' and we have the flexibility within the program to say 'We can't do $125, but we could do $155.' You can have a dialog,” he said.
His shop, which specializes in 18th and 19th century books, prints and lithographs, was another testbed. He's already sold about a dozen items. Some of the most successful have been prints by the famous American bird expert John James Audubon.
“What's exciting about this is that it extends the same courtesies that we can offer people who come into our shop to the general public,” he said. “It's bringing our art to the attention of a great many more people.”
This story originally appeared on USA Today .The content was created separately by The Independent.