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Amazon ramps up SKUs in readiness for Black Friday


New York --Ramping up for Black Friday, Amazon increased its product listings by 43% in the third quarter of 2014, adding four times as many SKUs to its website between July and September than it did in the entire first half of 2014. According to a report by CommerceHub, the online retail giant primarily grew products within the categories of electronics, home improvement and health & beauty.

The CommerceHub Product Assortment Index also found that, leading up to the third-quarter explosion, Amazon reduced its product assortment by 7% in the first quarter and slowly ramped up in the second quarter, increasing listings by 18%.

The marked third-quarter increase is the first time this year that Amazon has added products at a faster pace than other large retailers included in the CommerceHub Product Assortment Index, which tracks more than 600 million SKUs every week. Collectively, those retailers increased their product assortment by 15% over the same period.

With many pre-holiday predictions indicating that e-commerce sellers will see record sales this year, Amazon is adding products in key categories ahead of Black Friday. Traditional retailers have also been steadily increasing their product assortment throughout the year as they race to catch up with Amazon’s vast number of SKUs. “Product assortment expansion is an important growth lever for retailers,” said Frank Poore, CEO and founder of CommerceHub, which provides a sourcing, merchandising and fulfillment platform that connects retailers and suppliers. “Amazon has proved that massive listings can drive sales and revenue, and other retailers are aggressively expanding their product assortments to provide consumers with exactly what they want.”

Amazon’s product assortment growth focused on a few specific categories heading into the holidays, including electronics, home improvement, home goods, and health and beauty. The company reduced listings in baby and kids, and toys and games, two categories where other retailers added products.

Over the course of the entire year, other major retailers have added products faster than Amazon, according to CommerceHub. Traditional retailers grew SKUs by 82% in the first nine months of the year, outpacing Amazon in 13 of 15 categories.

“Traditional retailers are growing their product assortments significantly to increase their scale,” Poore said. “Amazon has invested millions of dollars in fulfillment centers worldwide to offer such a massive product assortment at strategic times of the year, but this approach is simply not realistic for most retailers, who are increasingly turning to third-party suppliers to expand their assortment through virtual inventory fulfillment.”

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