Amazon says first clothing store will be a fashion and technological revelation

Discussion
Photos: Amazon
Jan 21, 2022

Amazon.com has become the biggest apparel seller in the U.S. without any stores. Now it plans to open its first clothing store this year under the Amazon Style banner.

The 30,000-square-foot store featuring men’s and women’s apparel, shoes and accessories will open in Glendale, CA, at The Americana at Brand, a large dining, shopping and residential complex that boasts A list retailer tenants including Apple, lululemon, Nike, Nordstrom, Sephora and Tiffany. Amazon also operates one of its 4-Star stores in the Glendale facility.

Amazon says the Style store will offer a great selection at low prices (the same as offered online) with an in-store shopping experience that is convenient and “built to inspire.”

The store will feature both top popular brands and new designer fashions with prices ranging from $10 to $400. Amazon did not detail specific labels it plans to sell in the store nor what role its private brands will play in its mix.

Customers will use their Amazon Shopping app to select clothing they want to try on from a QR code connected to the item. Selected items are delivered to a designated fitting room where customers may also use a personalized touchscreen to browse for more choices, rate items and have additional pieces brought to them to try on. They can have items they want to purchase brought directly to the pickup counter.

Amazon says the location will offer more than double the number of styles found in traditional clothing stores of the same size.

The new concept is built upon machine learning algorithms, according to the retailer, that “produce tailored, real-time recommendations for each customer as they shop.”

Amazon says the new Style store will provide customers with more options for discovering and purchasing items, including the ability to shop online and then try pieces on at the store as well as discover items in the store and purchase them later online.

The planned opening of the Amazon Style store appears to confirm reports from last summer that the company was planning to take on department stores with a new physical concept. Those reports said Amazon would open its new format in California and Ohio. Management has not provided any detail on where or how many Style stores it plans to open.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What’s your reaction to the Amazon Style store concept? Do you think it will prove popular and, if so, how do you expect its competitors to react?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Amazon will need to have enough employees to promptly pick and deliver app orders to fitting rooms and checkout counters; otherwise, this concept won’t work."
"The real question is, should leading brands play ball with Amazon stores?"
"Looking at the video, Amazon is replacing traditional sales associates with an app and a powerful recommendation engine."

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45 Comments on "Amazon says first clothing store will be a fashion and technological revelation"


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Mark Ryski
BrainTrust

This is a very interesting concept, and the cornucopia of tech enabled services make it among the most advanced apparel stores I’ve seen. While I have no doubt that Amazon can bring the technology – and this will most certainly be attractive to some consumers – the fashion still has to resonate and no algorithm can pick winners (yet).

Brandon Rael
BrainTrust
With the opening of the “Amazon Style” format, Amazon will now be offering a wide range assortment from the $10 basic to the designer jeans to the $400 timeless piece. There will be elements of the traditional department store. However the connected experience is extremely dependent on the consumer’s smartphone, as the interaction is all around the QR code experience. A few things to consider: The department store segment has been facing challenges for well over a decade; There are signs of a slight renaissance in the department store segment with the innovations that Nordstrom has put forth with their curated assortments, personalization, restaurants, cafes, and a customer-first strategy; Amazon enters a department store arena that is congested, competitive, and fighting for relevance in a disrupted pandemic economy. What will distinguish the Amazon format from the competition as these formats roll out? Will it truly be an immersive, digitally connected experience? Will there potentially be a Prime-like loyalty program and competitive pricing? How big will this potentially scale to? So many questions. It will be… Read more »
Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

While department stores are experiencing that slight renaissance, Amazon is building the future store. As digitally savvy younger generations take over the shopping experience, there will be no patience for shopping in a department store.

Brandon Rael
BrainTrust

Yes, please bring on the department store of the future. We all want convenience, powered by QR codes, connected commerce, touchless payment options, integrated loyalty programs, augmented reality. Bring it on and at scale profitably.

It’s not just the younger generations that want this. Older generations that continue to evolve, pivot, and embrace new technologies and have abandoned department stores want this type of experience as well.

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

Good point. I am of an older, older generation and I want it. Maybe I am evolved?

Brandon Rael
BrainTrust

Indeed you are, Gene. The acceleration of innovative technologies requires us to evolve and pivot how we live, shop, and engage.

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust

Gene, without a doubt!

Dave Bruno
BrainTrust

As Mark Ryski also said, the tech is great — but if the assortments don’t resonate, the store will not thrive. Only time will tell if Amazon can effectively curate its assortments to align with the local clientele.

Scott Norris
Guest

3-D printing and weave-to-order looms, plus current dye-sublimation technology, might allow for leapfrogging right over what Amazon is planning. Then it comes down to the quality of design and execution, a very local/tribal experience that busts up “mass” retail. We’re starting to see this in food with flour micro-milling units, for instance.

Bob Phibbs
BrainTrust

I think it will attract people to the novelty initially. Will they prefer to shop by scanning a QR code and not carrying their size to the fitting room? I think this is more a learning lab for Amazon to see how people move in the space than anything. The potential from the video seems to be a lonely shopping experience in a warehouse.

Gary Sankary
BrainTrust

I agree that this is a learning opportunity. It will be really interesting to see this develop.

Ken Morris
BrainTrust
It was only a matter of time before Amazon took on brick-and-mortar in new categories. They obviously made their first move in grocery with Whole Foods, and then their Amazon 4-star concept, but this is a different animal. Fashion is a tricky business, getting the right people has never been harder, they will certainly have the technology down pat so they will succeed in proving that stores still have a life. From a data collection standpoint, this store will do what retail has been trying to do for decades: understand what the customer wants and how they make actual purchase decisions. Imagine Amazon’s real-time recommendation engine brought to life in a store. And because customers will be using the Amazon app to scan QR codes of everything they’re interested in, Amazon will be collecting amazingly detailed data on conversion rates. They will, of course, also be able to correlate prior online interest by the customer in the same or similar products and track what the customer is looking for after they leave the store. This… Read more »
Lee Peterson
BrainTrust

I liked this idea when Reformation did it too, nice. Showroom stores are a perfect match for apparel and the lack of them (Bonobos?) says more than the presence of this one. But let us not forget; whiz bang really works with commodities (food) but in this instance, you have to have the right fashion, which is a whole other ballgame and much harder to do than an algorithm. Just ask Gap.

Liza Amlani
BrainTrust
The hype will wear off quickly on this concept and shoppers will go in out of curiosity and Amazon will learn about what products are creating interest/excitement vs. collecting dust. This is an experiment. So Amazon can learn about fashion because they can’t seem to get it right. Why haven’t we heard much from their luxury push? Is Oscar still selling on Amazon? Has it devalued the luxury brands that signed up? When I lived in London in 2017, Amazon Fashion went on a recruiting spree (I considered it) and then crickets. No one I know stayed in their roles and it seemed like a joke in the industry. Last thought – I’m all for the showroom experience but why such a huge physical footprint? Why not go in hyper-local and pop-up in communities to test, learn, and excite? Take a book out of the pop-ups in Shoreditch (East London) or cool spots around fashion forward cities like NYC/Tokyo or even perhaps a limited time partnership with a relevant department store. Why go so big?… Read more »
Brandon Rael
BrainTrust

Great perspective as always, Liza! The Amazon hype machine thrives on publicity. Any publicity is good publicity for Amazon.

Jeff Sward
BrainTrust

I love the fact that Amazon is taking merchandising risks as well as pushing the envelope with digital and tech shopping. Normally I would say the broad price range lacks focus. But here I think it has the potential to make the shopping experience really unique. Plus it offers a data gathering mechanism other retailers don’t have.

Jeff Sward
BrainTrust
This story has been everywhere today. So with some extra time to think about it, I will add: It’s also a test of store size. Google says a big Gap store is 18,000 sq. ft. A small Kohl’s store is 35,000 sq. ft. Medium Kohl’s = 50,000 sq. ft. Big Kohl’s = 80,000 sq. ft. Google also says Kohl’s is looking to shrink its average footprint because the bigger store just aren’t as productive as they used to be. No surprise there. So if Amazon is looking 5-10 years out (and they are) they are probably looking for what kind of physical footprint is optimal for selling apparel. A big Gap or a small Kohl’s sounds like a pretty good place to start. My guess is that Amazon has a series of iterations they can run through this footprint to test a number of scenarios for both Product and Process. This test could be an appetizer for what they could accomplish with a slam dunk Kohl’s acquisition. JCP was too much space in a dying… Read more »
Dick Seesel
BrainTrust

I don’t doubt that Amazon will bring technology to this store concept, and will generate imitators just like Amazon Go. But 30,000 square feet is not a lot — yes, much more than most specialty apparel stores but less than a store like Macy’s or Kohl’s with a broader assortment of clothing. Amazon will have a challenge offering the breadth of selection seen on its website while also trying to provide a more curated offering in limited space.

The slow rollout of most other Amazon brick-and-mortar concepts so far suggests some patience with their latest concept.