Amazon.com offering to help get jobs done around the house

Topics: From the Wires,

SEATTLE (AP) — Amazon.com is introducing a referral service to help people to get projects and chores done around their homes.

The recommendation system, called Amazon Home Services, marks the e-commerce company’s latest attempt to expand its empire beyond online shopping. It debuted Monday across the U.S. after several months of testing in New York, Los Angeles and Amazon.com’s home city of Seattle.

Amazon.com’s move poses a potential threat to other online referral and business rating services, including Angie’s List, Yelp and Thumbtack, a startup that raised $100 million last year from a group of backers led by an investment arm of Google Inc.

About 700 different services in major U.S. cities can be booked through Amazon.com, spanning from housecleaning to goat grazing. Amazon.com isn’t charging consumers a fee to use the service. Instead, the company will collect a commission ranging from 10 percent to 20 percent from most of the professionals.

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All professionals listed in the service are vetted by Amazon.com, which is also guaranteeing all the work.

Amazon.com believes connecting consumers with handymen and home-maintenance specialists will prove to be a logical extension to its e-commerce business because about 85 million of its customers buy products that require installation or periodic servicing.

Investors haven’t always approved of Amazon.com’s efforts to diversify outside of online shopping, a push that has seen the company branch out into making a variety of gadgets and running an Internet video service. The investments in the other projects have shrunk Amazon.com’s profits and sometimes lumped the company with losses to the dismay of its shareholders.

Shares of Amazon.com rose $3.21 to $373.77 in afternoon trading. Its shares have risen more than 10 percent over the past year.

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