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Amazon Prime Wardrobe is a 'game changer', say experts

Amazon has “thrown down the gauntlet” with the launch of its new try-before-you-buy delivery service, industry observers have said.

As reported by Drapers last week, Amazon is launching a service that allows shoppers to try on clothing at home before they pay for it.

Amazon Prime Wardrobe, which is currently being tested in the US, allows Prime customers to try on up to 15 items of clothing at home before they pay for them. Shoppers can schedule a free pick-up for the items they do not want. If they keep three or four items from the box, they get 10% off everything, and if they keep five or more products they get 20% off.

Analysts and ecommerce experts have called it a “game changer”, as other fashion retailers will be unable to compete.

“It is a smart play by Amazon,” said Martin Newman, chairman of ecommerce consultancy Practicology. “It will increase the average order values and units bought, grow their market share and give shoppers a reason to buy fashion from them.” 

He added that fashion is a category Amazon “has struggled with in the UK”, so a service such as Prime Wardrobe could help. Amazon has not given a timeframe for the rollout of the service to other countries.

Retail analyst Richard Hyman agreed: “Amazon is setting the competitive agenda and it is very difficult for anyone else to keep up. The fact that they are not expected to make money gives them a total advantage, fashion retailers can’t compete with that level of service. Amazon has thrown down the gauntlet.”

He added: “It will definitely help them gain fashion market share in the UK, if it launches over here. It is changing the rules of the game.”

Tiffany Hogan, senior analyst at Kantar Retail, said Prime Wardrobe, which is open to brands including Calvin Klein, Levi’s, Adidas and Lacoste, will expand awareness of the etailer’s fashion offer.

“It removes the barriers caused by shipping costs and it gets the product in front of people. Amazon already has a big Prime logistics vehicle in place – they are tapping into that, so it should be relatively easy to implement. Amazon wants to change the way its fashion is perceived, they want to be the first retailer shoppers think of because they are the easiest to use.”

However, Hogan added that Amazon’s customer experience and presentation of fashion is still below par when compared to other online players.

Sofie Willmott, senior analyst at retail research firm GlobalData, agreed: “Amazon will increase its market share but there is a lot of work to do on its fashion offer. There is a lot more to do on the website itself, it is lagging behind Asos and Boohoo.

“[Prime Wardrobe] will increase the number of units per order and will encourage Prime customers to try its clothing, but I’m unsure if it will encourage new customers to buy Prime for the first time.”

Readers' comments (3)

  • This will be interesting in so far as returns are concerned, one wonders what percentage would need to be set aside to manage this, and, of course how this will affect brands supplying them.
    Yet another nail in the coffin for traditional bricks and mortar retailers I fear.

    Its the end of the (retail) game as I see it!

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  • darren hoggett

    'Try before you buy' could be easily stated as 'Try, then don't buy' and all the mechanicals that come with it. Tail unnecessarily wagging the dog here. Desperate stuff from Amazon.

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  • Reducing the extent of returns is where they'll need to give a lot of focus. Otherwise it could easily clog up their system and impact on quality of other services.

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