Etail giant Amazon unveiled its standalone footwear website Javari in the UK last week, offering free next day delivery of competitively priced branded shoes.
Amazon has been selling footwear via its main site since 2007 but is gunning for a bigger slice of the UK online footwear market – which research firm TNS Worldpanel Fashion estimated at £591m for the 52 weeks to August 19 – via Javari, which offers 5,500 styles from more than 140 brands including French Connection, KG by Kurt Geiger, Kipling and Ted Baker, with the brand count set to increase.
Amazon has been aggressively expanding into categories beyond its origins as a bookseller and is now considered to be a serious player in the UK fashion and footwear market.
In a further sign that Amazon is serious about stamping its name on the footwear category, in June the business – which already owns US footwear site Endless.com – acquired Zappos.com, the US footwear and fashion site, for $847m (£513.4m), although there are no plans to introduce Zappos to the UK market.
Ian Blackman, managing director of the footwear division at brand house Pentland Brands, said the launch was a positive move for the branded market. “I think it’s great and it is an opportunity to have a really serious branded offer in the market, especially with all of the stores that have closed recently. From a wholesale perspective it is another opportunity to reach the market and build the brand.”
However, there are concerns among some third-party footwear retailers which trade with Amazon via an online concession model. The launch of Javari pits Amazon against retailers including Schuh, Office and Cloggs.co.uk, which all sell footwear via the main Amazon site, leading some retail partners to question the future of their business relationship with Amazon.
The boss of one retailer that trades via Amazon said: “It’s got potential to shake-up the industry in terms of free delivery and it has always been a concern that [Amazon] is a Trojan horse. This launch has been done without consulting the existing retail partners. How can we be a partner and compete at the same time?”
Amazon would not comment on details of its business model but it is believed to be taking commission of about 30% from concession partners and buys wholesale on both a sale or return and standard basis.
This week Amazon also launched a fashion outlet site in the UK that sells brands such as Adidas and Timberland with discounts of between 50% and 70%.
Footwear’s net gains
Estimated expenditure on footwear online for 52 weeks to August 16, 2009
Growth in online sales compared with the same period for the previous year
Estimated value of online women’s footwear market
Estimated value of online men’s footwear market
Estimated value of online kids’ footwear market
Estimated total volume of footwear units sold online over the 52-week period
Source: TNS Worldpanel Fashion