If you’re able, create a label: Amazon takes on the fashion world
When people think about Amazon, clothes aren’t the 1st thing that comes to mind. For a marketplace that sells everyday items to the completely bizarre it should come as no surprise that they would sell the practical as well. In fact, Amazon has its own section on the marketplace named Amazon Fashion which is consistently overshadowed by other departments but truly is a profitable area of Amazon’s site.
Amazon has tested the waters by selling their own brand products in several categories with their most notable being AmazonBasics, a private label that sells household items ranging from bedding, to pet supplies and electronic cables. Usually Amazon does this quietly without any explicit mention that it is a subsidiary of theirs. It is difficult to count just how many labels belong to the company.
Fashion is one such area where Amazon has created a plethora of own brand labels that unless told, customers would be unaware belonged to Amazon. Brand labels like Franklin & Freeman, Scout + Ro and Society New York all sound like individually owned companies that are coincidentally selling on Amazon as well. Amazon has given each of them their own individual store page to sell items that are created specifically for that exact label. Each label sells a different style or make of clothing to optimise demographic reach and tastes. It is a clever strategy from the ecommerce giant; Amazon’s private labels provides an extra profit stream and makes the site appear like a bigger marketplace for apparel, encouraging other brands to sell on the marketplace as well. Amazon also advertises labels that are explicitly stated as owned by them such as Find. which the storefront has been given a lot more attention than other private labels.
Big fashion brands may realise that Amazon might be worth selling on because brand names are usually key search words that consumers use on the site. Selling on Amazon will also allow big fashion brands with Brand Registry to control how and by whom their labels are sold by on the marketplace, just as Nike did in 2017.
This year, Amazon also entered the fashion industry through playing to the contemporary trend of ‘drop culture’. Drop culture refers to the thinking behind fashion brands releasing a limited number of clothes as a marketing technique to create hype through unique apparel. Fashion brands such as Gucci, Luis Vuitton and Burberry have all tapped into using retail drops to seduce would-be consumers, and now so has Amazon. Aptly named The Drop, Amazon entices its customers to buy limited edition collections designed by global fashion influencers. Placing a time limit of 30 hours to buy the design and using influential fame, Amazon can turn one of their private labels into a once-in-a-lifetime product to ensure that it sells. The Drop also sells a specific range of clothing that remain evergreen named the Staples Range which allows Amazon to create a year-round revenue even when no fashion drop is running on the platform.
Fashion still holds difficulties for the marketplace as it’s such a vast category. If looking for a white blouse for example, Amazon’s search results will accrue up to 90,000 ASINs. Fashion relies heavily on inspiration and being able to browse rather than using specific search algorithm terms. Amazon is famous for their innovations though, and fashion is no different. The company has attempted to climb this barrier by investing in new technologies such as #founditonamazon and their Amazon App, StyleSnap to keep up with consumer’s rapidly evolving expectations.
Another issue with selling clothing online is that sizes are dependent on brand and company, especially women’s clothing; what might be a pair of size 12 jeans one place may be an extremely different size in another. It’s not hard to believe that approximately 91% of shoppers have ordered clothes that didn’t fit right in the past year. Once again, Amazon has created a system to prevent this happening to its customers and it is called Prime Wardrobe.
Prime Wardrobe is a relatively simple innovation that lets Prime users try on clothes before they buy them. Like companies such as Lookiero, Amazon sends up to 6 eligible items of clothing of your choice to your door for you to see, feel and try on in the comfort of your own home. You get a week to test the apparel before you must send back the items you don’t want to keep using the prepaid return label and resealable bag from Amazon. . All apparel is shipped and sold by Amazon meaning that any items bought through this system will provide revenue to Amazon as the 1P seller. Prime Wardrobe lets customers try on clothes before making the purchase and then customers only pay for the items they want to keep. This service comes with no added costs to Prime users as it is included in the Prime membership fee.
This month Amazon also announced that Prime Wardrobe will include a service called ‘Personal Shopper’ that will send monthly curated clothing packages for various styles and budgets to customers, further competing with sites like Lookiero and Stitch Fix. Unlike Prime Wardrobe, the subscription will cost an extra $4.99. At this time, it is only available in the US and for women in sizes 0–24 and XS–XXL/3X and women’s shoes in sizes 5–12. A men’s service is also reported to be in development. For sellers looking to enrol their clothing to become Prime Wardrobe enabled, it is only possible to do so if invited by Amazon at this time.
Another free Prime exclusive is the Amazon Outfit Compare feature on Amazon’s mobile app. This service allows customers to upload 2 different outfits and get an opinion on which one looks better. Amazon uses fashion specialists to review both images and determine which outfit looks best while also considering what is fashionable. This service might not appear to help Amazon sell clothing on their marketplace, but future innovation may change this. The app may evolve to allow fashion specialists to use Amazon algorithms and individual customer data to suggest specific Amazon products that would add a ‘finishing touch’ to a chosen outfit.
It is evident that Amazon is intent to become a big player in the clothing industry worldwide. Now is a perfect time to do so with traditional brick-and-mortar big retailers like J.C Penney reporting drops in sales. Bezos once stated that ‘A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.’ And that’s exactly what Amazon does best. Although they originally struggled with selling clothes on the site, they are persevering by using customer data to figure out what consumers want. With Amazon’s continual innovation, fashion retailers should begin to worry about how well the ecommerce powerhouse is succeeding in selling its own apparel. By introducing new features on their site to counter typical issues encountered by online fashion retailers such as sizes and refunds, Amazon can continue to improve its fashion status. Who knows, in a few years we might find ourselves looking to Amazon to decide what the next trend should be.
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