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Yahoo! is searching for new revenue to become less reliant on the slumping ad market. Here's how it explains its shopping play in a November filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission:

"We have focused ... significant resources on ... our electronic commerce properties. These properties, such as Yahoo! Shopping, link users with a network of retailers with which we have relationships. However, we merely provide a means through which our users can access the sellers.... [A] large number of our users currently utilize our online shopping services simply to gather information for future offline purchases. We will need to effectively induce information gatherers to make purchases in order for our electronic commerce properties to be successful. ... The revenue that we derive ... is typically in the form of a bounty or a commission paid by the retailer from whom our user purchased a product. ... If our users contact retailers directly, we will not receive any revenue for purchases made through such direct contact. Competing providers of online shopping, including merchants with which we have relationships, may be able to provide a more convenient and comprehensive online shopping experience due to their singular focus on electronic commerce. As a result, we may have difficulty competing with those merchants for users of electronic commerce services."

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