Amazon Aims to Expand into Fashion

October 12, 2017

jurgen-appeloWhile Amazon has been an online retail powerhouse for years now, in 2017 the company showed the business world what a truly dominant force it could be. Along with buying Whole Foods during the summer, Amazon’s name came up constantly as the media discussed how the online outlet had upended the traditional retail industry. But despite all the talk about Amazon’s growing supremacy, the company still can’t compete in one of retail’s most lucrative sectors: fashion.

That’s not to say people avoid buying clothes on Amazon. According to the research firm L2, the site’s best selling apparel brands for men include Hanes and Levi’s/Dockers. The former tops the ladies’ list as well and is joined by other low-key brands like Made by Johnny and the yoga pants-maker 90 Degrees by Reflex. These companies all sell basic items like underwear, t-shirts, simple skirts, and other unexciting but essential garments. Amazon’s “everything store” business model specializes in selling these types of routine products. After all, it’s easy to type “white t-shirts” into the search bar and quickly find a six-pack of Hanes v-necks.

What’s harder to do is look for “dinner party dress” or “suit for a wedding.” Any user that searches for these terms will be bombarded with options that range from tacky to expensive and everything in between. Amazon simply has too many choices to offer its customers, which can lead to problems when people need something that can’t be summed up in a search bar. Fashion shoppers want to browse through a curated selection of items to determine what wows them and what doesn’t. Amazon’s tendency to display an enormous amount of offerings undermines this concept, but the company is working to fix the problem. It recently unveiled PrimeWardrobe, which will let customers try on clothes at home before buying them. Amazon is also working with a number of private-label clothing brands to help the company finally break into the fashion market.

Questions:

 

  1. Why does Amazon fall short when it comes to dominating the fashion market?
  2. Do you think Amazon will continue to have problems with fashion or will the company eventually find a way to take over the sector?

Source: Sarah Halzack, “Amazon Is Too Basic for Its Fashion Ambitions,” Bloomberg, October 2, 2017. Photo by Jurgen Appelo.

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