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  • 29 Feb 2016

Amazon launches own-label fashion: what’s to fear?

Last week it was announced that Amazon had launched its own-brand fashion labels in the US, marking the retailers’ first march into the fashion marketplace. The brands available on Amazon’s US site feature up to 1800 new products, such as men’s suits and dress shoes, women’s casual and contemporary clothing, accessories, and children’s clothing.

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The news has provoked some raised eyebrows in the retail community. Will the ecommerce giant threaten the retail brands we know and love?

There’s been some commentary that Amazon’s accomplished fulfilment model, slick delivery operations, and high levels of customer satisfaction are a combination that will pose a threat to the fashion marketplace. In addition, the products are retailing at a low cost point; when combined with the “Amazon effect”, it could be a deadly success.

Amazon’s consumer electronics portfolio (Kindle, Fire tablets, Fire TV) really works. So, is diversifying into own-brand fashion any different?

Short answer: quite different. There are key variances to mark between US and UK retailing, and perhaps a few downfalls with Amazon Fashion that we have considered.

  • The “brands” that have launched in the US are Franklin & Freeman, Franklin Tailored, James & Erin, Lark & Ro, North Eleven, Scout + Ro and Society New York…

Are those brand names at all memorable? To us, they’re a bit of a blur, and frankly (excuse the pun) vanilla. One thing has been proven in fashion retailing that’s very prevalent in the UK consumer mind-set: the brand must have a strong position, an original message, and offer a seamless customer experience across channels. Will this really work on Amazon, when the design of the ecommerce platform is no different from searching for novelty gifts?

This leads on to the next flop.

  • Do you want to order clothes on the same site you might order your lawn mower, Go Pro, or dog shampoo?

You might buy a coat from Amazon, but would you buy a coat made by Amazon? Consumers enjoy the experience of buying branded clothing as a rather special, luxury feeling: “treating yourself”. If your new occasion-wear arrived in the same box as some batteries, would you enjoy the same levels of customer satisfaction? In addition, KeyBanc notes that only 15% of Amazon’s active customers currently buy clothing and accessories on the site. Amazon might be looking to own-label fashion to fuel its expansion plans, but is the demand really there?

Despite this, Amazon has fast become the marketplace giant from which you can buy anything. It also has a vast amount of customer profile and purchase history data to draw on, which could be used to make fast-fashion wins.

Why should fashion be exempt from its offering? What’s your view? Post your opinions in the comment box below:

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