With the launch of the first Amazon Style store later this year, consumers will not receive the traditional retail experience or apparel from the commodity retailer.
Launched at The Americana at Brand in Glendale, California, the Amazon Style store that was announced last week appears to be shaking up retail by offering more convenience to fashion consumers. Focused on displays with matching QR codes, it hopes to offer a new retail format. While affordability can be an effective strategy for selling essentials, the physical fashion market may be more difficult to crack. Amazon has never ventured into space. However, Amazon had no problem attracting fashion consumers, earning it the top spot for apparel retail sales last year. In 2021, Wells Fargo expects Amazon’s apparel and footwear sales to exceed $ 45 billion in 2022.
The opportunity could provide a foothold for the retailer in the market, while providing a physical space to test and repeat retail strategies and innovative technology. The store will feature the site’s famous brands and Amazon brand labels, with a focus on trending pieces ranging from $ 10 to $ 400. The retailer hasn’t disclosed which brands will be stocked. The store will prioritize technology as a tool to streamline the shopping experience. It will contain real-time recommendations from machine learning algorithms delivered through the Amazon app, as well as visual touchscreen displays integrated into the app in the locker rooms. The store will be connected to the same fulfillment centers that power the rest of Amazon’s e-commerce business.
While many retailers choose Manhattan or Los Angeles for their first store, Amazon’s choice of Glendale reads like a strategic choice based on its consumption goals. “Amazon chose a suburban market to test it, along with brands like Zara and H&M,” said Syama Meagher, CEO of Scaling Retail. “They aren’t necessarily looking at a higher-end, more affluent luxury consumer, even though Amazon has traditionally and still continues to try to hack the corner of luxury.”
He added: “Amazon suffers from the Macy’s problem. As long as something is done under the “Macy’s” label, it just won’t look good. By launching with the name of his shop, he implicitly shoots [Amazon] in the foot. Instead, this will be a place to aggregate more mass market brands into the store. With the store very rich in data, it will be a real experimentation hub for suppliers. “
The experimental nature of this first store means this iteration may just be the starting point for the Amazon Style store of the future. Meagher believes Amazon’s value to fashion consumers lies in its “shop for influencer” section which aggregates the most successful products that influencers are endorsing. “There may be an iteration of this that isn’t fashion-oriented, but [rather] lifestyle brand – where there are endorsements of other products that influencers were endorsing. It could become a place to shop for all these in-store activations and advertising launches.
One of the missing pieces in Amazon’s announcement was the eventual integration of personalization through Amazon Style store employees. One of the typical roles of associates, providing advice on articles, seems to have been replaced by technology. This could be a good thing. Steven Dennis, retail strategy consultant and keynote speaker on retail innovation, said dressing rooms have historically been overly dependent on individual labor that was in short supply, even before Omicron. Clothing stores, especially cheaper ones, have a hard time supporting fitting rooms with personal assistants. There are many opportunities for the application of technology in the dressing room, to help with the selection and personalization of items.
Dennis sees the opening of the Amazon store as a marketing strategy and a means for customers to see Amazon’s private label items for themselves and try them out. It’s the same reason other online-only brands like Allbirds or Warby Parker have found it useful to switch to brick and mortar. However, he said it is unclear whether there is a desire among fashion consumers for an Amazon store and, in particular, for Amazon-only brands. “The store will really be about marketing for Amazon, further developing these brands, as well as reducing returns and developing other services.”
“Amazon hasn’t penetrated well into the high-end clothing categories. While that has a lot to do with the lack of physical presence, it also has to do with Amazon’s reputation as more of a commodity actor. ”Dennis said. He went on to say that presenting their brand alongside more brands. exclusives could conceivably help Amazon’s image among fashion shoppers.It could also boost sales in categories that tend to do better in physical retail than online.
“There’s this whole game of credibility about fashion and [play for] the display of its brands, [targeted at] a crowd they are trying to develop, ”he said. “It’s a store, so Amazon has the advantage of always doing a huge number of experiments, unlike some companies, which only have one or two things at stake at any given time.”