Amazon’s first clothing store is coming to Los Angeles-area shoppers.
Dubbed Amazon Style, the nearly 30,000-foot-store opening later this year offers a tech-first experience, with a focus on simplifying finding and fitting new fashion across men’s and women’s apparel, footwear and accessories.
Shoppers can use the Amazon Shopping app to send items to a fitting room for try on, browse and rate merchandise, and request more sizes or styles, the company said in a blog post Thursday.
An August The Wall Street Journal report first described Amazon’s clothing store plans as “akin to department stores” mirroring the recent launches of scaled-down Bloomies and Nordstrom Local concepts.
Amazon says the selection on offer will be larger than a traditional store of its size with more than double the number of styles while taking the headache out of rifling through endless racks of clothing in search of something that surprises, delights—and fits. As initially reported, the store will offer both Amazon’s private labels, as well as a selection of third-party brands sold through its online marketplace. Items will range from $10 basic apparel to $400 designer apparel.
The e-commerce giant declined to clarify whether fashion from The Drop, the platform tapping influencers and brands to co-create or curate collections, will be sold through the new store opening at The Americana at Brand shopping complex in the Southern California suburb of Glendale. Amazon didn’t specify when the store will open.
Amazon Style will feature items on display with a QR code below so shoppers can use the Amazon Shopping app to quickly look up product details like sizes, colors, overall customer ratings and additional information. Consumers can immediately send products to a pickup counter if they don’t need to try something on.
Machine learning algorithms produce tailored, real-time recommendations as customers shop and scan items. Shoppers can share their style, fit and other preferences to receive more refined recommendations.
“We obsessed over designing a shopping experience focused on helping customers find great looks, and it led us to create Amazon Style,” wrote Simoina Vasen, managing director of Amazon Style, in a blog post detailing the store. “We’re so excited to offer a shopping experience that inspires discovery and combines the best of shopping on Amazon.com with the benefit of touching and trying on items to ensure a great fit.”
Amazon has long eyed a bigger role in fashion, with Wells Fargo reporting in March that its apparel and footwear business was on track to generate $45 billion in revenue last year. The investment bank estimated that Amazon’s market share in the categories was 12 percent in the U.S. and up to 35 percent in U.S. e-commerce alone. The company has leveraged its “Making the Cut” streaming fashion reality series as a vehicle to serve up designer style to a captive audience and grow its clout as a style expert.
But despite its apparel ambitions, some question why the company was even investing in Amazon Style stores. Sucharita Kodali, vice president and principal analyst with Forrester, previously told Sourcing Journal that the move was “silly all around” given the declining foot traffic to large-footprint department stores.
Yet at the same time, U.S. Census Bureau data from November 2021 indicates that even in pandemic-era times, third-quarter e-commerce sales accounted for just 12.4 percent of total retail. So regardless of whether the store concept is just an experiment or part of something more, Amazon is capitalizing on the idea that consumers still appreciate the tactile experience of shopping for clothing and shoes.
Vasen said the store’s merchandise selection combined the expertise of fashion curators and feedback from “millions of customers” shopping on Amazon.com.
“With Amazon’s vast fulfillment center network, selection at Amazon Style will be frequently updated so customers can discover new items each time they visit,” she added.
The store aims to bridge the physical and digital experiences, particularly so that shoppers don’t necessarily have to buy the item on location. Items scanned at Amazon Style are saved in the Amazon Shopping app for future reference. Prices are consistent across channels.
Amazon Style will employ the same technologies and processes found in the company’s fulfillment centers to store more items that can be quickly delivered from back-of-house to a customer. The store will also include what Vasen called “new complex inventory management systems,” new technology to support customer service and the “pay with your palm” Amazon One checkout solution.
No reference was made to the cashierless Just Walk Out technology that currently powers the Amazon Go convenience stores. It is unclear whether the inventory management systems Vasen refers to are linked with the tech titan’s reported proprietary point-of-sale (POS) system, which allegedly contains a portal that could centralize inventory and business analytics data.
Amazon confirmed the store will employ “hundreds” of employees.
For now, there’s little clarity on whether Prime membership will bring the added benefits or discounts effective at other Amazon physical banners such as Whole Foods, Amazon Books and Amazon 4-star. As of Dec. 31, 2020, Amazon had 611 physical stores in North America, including Whole Foods, according to its latest annual filing in February 2021.
Additional reporting by Jessica Binns.