Amazon has added a new "Marketplace" feature to the UK and German versions of its online shop.

This allows visitors to buy and sell collectible items on the same page as new items are being sold, the company said.

It's seen as an attempt to compete with popular online auction sites, QXL and eBay. The service has been set up to let used items, such as books, videos, games and music be offered for sale by Amazon's customers, complementing the new products the company also offers through its site.

The US version of this service has been operational since November 2000. The service accounted for 15 per cent of the company's orders in the fourth quarter, the company said.

Amazon.co.uk claims over five million active customers – customer accounts from which at least one order has been placed within the past twelve months.

When browsing for an item, users see a note on the item's Web page stating that a used or collectible version of the product is available. It's possible for users to offer their own used items for sale, or to register an interest in a particular item should one becomes available.

Vendors must register by providing a valid name, email address and credit card information to verify their identity. Amazon charges an administration fee of 15 per cent of the item's total selling price with a closing fee of £0.75 per item for the service.

UK vendors must have a valid UK bank account and postal address to set-up an Amazon "Payments" account. When Amazon receives payment from the buyer, the seller's account is credited. The company transfers any payments received to the seller's bank account every two weeks, Amazon said.