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Amazon 'must upgrade shopping experience' to disrupt fashion industry

Amazon is taking on mid-market retailers in the UK with its new label Find, but analysts suggest the etailer has more to do to improve the shopping experience before it radically shakes up the industry.

Amazon find for web 2

Amazon find for web 2

As exclusively revealed by Drapers last week, Amazon has quietly introduced its own-label fashion brand ahead of a wider launch scheduled for late summer. Around 400 options are available for men and women online.

Prices range from £8.90 for a two-pack of sports boxer shorts to £64 for an off-the-shoulder dress. Men’s T-shirts are around £12 to £18, while women’s jeans are £21 to £26.

Independent retail analyst Richard Hyman said he thought the initial offering is presented in an “underwhelming and primitive way”, offering minimal information on the products. However, he predicted that Amazon will get a lot better at selling fashion.

He pointed out that Amazon is “taking on the likes of Next and M&S, which are both really struggling to defend the dominant segment of the middle market”. He added: “It is interesting they have chosen not to take on Primark.”

Tiffany Hogan, senior analyst at Kantar Retail, said Find was significantly different in approach to the own brands Amazon has launched in the US, such as Franklin & Freeman, which is solely focused on men’s formal shoes.

It is more all-encompassing than some of the US brands, which target a specific style or mindset,” she said. “It is a lower price point and more European than some of the others, to take on the likes of Zara and H&M.”

She echoed Hyman in arguing that the shopping experience “is not quite where it needs to be for fashion”, but pointed out that Amazon is willing to invest in this side of the business, as demonstrated by its photography studio in Shoreditch, east London.

She added: “I think they will get there, if we look at the US market as a precursor.”

But Hyman questioned how easily Amazon will able to be to develop a different approach: “Most of the rest of what it does fits together – most of the other things it does you can sell in the same way and even food lends itself to that model more than fashion.”

Hogan added that a lot of the existing reviews on products are currently from Amazon Vine members. Vine is a programme where the most trusted reviewers are invited to post opinions about new and pre-release items to help fellow customers make informed purchase decisions.

“It looks like they are relying on customer feedback to develop the range further,” she said.

In February, Drapers revealed that Amazon had poached senior design and buying experts from M&S and Primark for the own-label launch.

Karen Peacock, whose extensive CV includes stints as womenswear design director at Debenhams and most recently head of design for womenswear and accessories at M&S, joined Amazon as design director.

Primark menswear buying director Glen George also joined the company, and is thought to be reporting into vice-president of clothing for Amazon Fashion EU Frances Russell. Amazon hired Russell from M&S, where she was womenswear director, in early 2016.

Last month, Drapers revealed that Amazon is testing a private-label lingerie and athleisure brand in the UK and Europe called Iris & Lilly.

Readers' comments (2)

  • Amazon will cause chaos. The industry is so ill prepared.

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  • Amazon is already selling some brands cheaper than wholesale which is bad enough!

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