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Amazon should not discount the 'shiny' factor if it wants to succeed

Back in December, Amazon broke its weekly fashion record selling more than one million items of clothing and footwear. Fast forward to today (or last Sunday more accurately) and the etail giant has made clear its fashion intentions by introducing a dedicated dress store.

Launched with a 48 hour homepage takeover on Amazon’s UK, German and French sites, the dress store pulls together dress items on the Amazon site as well as offering exclusive products for the launch. But should other etailers be worried by Amazon’s fashion plans?

In a word, yes. Multi-brand pure play etailers, department stores and indies will certainly be keeping an eye on what Amazon is doing in terms of fashion. While many have been (and still are) sceptical about whether a site like Amazon can sell fashion, the fact is the audience reach is exceptional.

Offering customers free delivery when spending over £10 as well free returns could force competitors to do the same especially as Amazon Prime customers always receive free next-day delivery. 

It’s not just the reach but also the simplicity of the Amazon experience that has had many retailers looking at “The Amazon Way” when aiming for the pinnacle of etail excellence - and as the winner of the Consumer Choice accolade at last year’s Drapers Etail Awards, it seems like the customer agrees.

However, looking at the new dress store, while vastly improved with catwalk and product photography and videos a-plenty, it still doesn’t completely feel like a fashion store – and certainly not a premium one.  The design screams “Amazon” and other than fashion photography, the user could be anywhere else on the site.

To me, the look still conveys that of a discount or outlet fashion channel.

Amazon boss Jeff Bezos has previously been quoted as saying “a company shouldn’t get addicted to being shiny, because shiny doesn’t last.” However, in fashion, you need a bit of shine.

Look at the recent website re-launches of Marks & Spencer and Harvey Nichols, where design was a huge factor, as was content. The Amazon dress store has neither.

It may well be that Amazon is looking to tackle this - the etailer has brought in a strong team at the helm with Sergio Bucher as vice president of Amazon Fashion EU, Juliet Warkentin (co-founder of Stylistpick) as creative and brand director and ex-Drapers executive editor Jessica Brown as head of fashion.

The range of brands on the site shows that brands are starting to believe in Amazon as a fashion store – and if brands are, then it has the potential for customers to view it in the same way. Just make it shiny please.

Readers' comments (1)

  • UK Fashion retailers have been slow to invest in relevant tech. Amazon have means to learn quickly and the clock is ticking.

    We won't start buying more clothes. Amazon will impact on margins, market share and market value. Who will they crush first?

    The issue is whether brands can improve customer service levels quick enough to protect their share. It's much easier to protect (and far more expensive to win back share).

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