Amazon’s Fashion Disruption

Amazon have always placed the customer at the centre, looking to deliver on their every whim, need and overall experience. This is certainly the case in their most recent disruption honing in on the fashion industry. Without a significant footprint in the sector, they have begun showing signs of strategic investment, giving reason for cautionary alarm to fashion retailers.

In 2015 Amazon invested in a photo studio in London’s trendy Shoreditch neighbourhood, it holds an editorial suite capable of processing 500,000 images each year, and now own at least five private fashion labels. The roll out of Prime Wardrobe allows customers to “try-before-you-buy” (TBYB) -something ASOS is trialling as well- along with the patenting of an “on demand” system which will enable Amazon to make clothes only once an order has been placed, highlighting Amazon’s expanding capabilities into manufacturing. They have extended their fashion arm into their shoppers’ home with echo look, a voice-controlled camera and style assistant powered by Alexa. This technology enables customers to take full-length photos, 6-second videos, view recommendations, and use Style Check for a second opinion on what looks best.

If indeed Amazon succeed in the manufacturing of on demand clothes, they might eventually collect shoppers’ body measurements and open the floodgates for mass scale, fast-fashion, and personalised production. Theoretically, they will design, manufacture, shoot, upload, personalise, distribute, and “move-in” with their consumer, owning the entire commercial cycle. Stitched together, a world of Amazon Fashion comes to life, with the potential to disrupt at a level that commands the attention from previously dismissive fashion brands. Nike for example, had historically resisted the platform, having always pushed the boundaries of retail. However, they now have an official presence, making Amazon part of their eCommerce strategy.

So where might this leave pure play fashion retailers? They might also need to officially go on Amazon, allowing their brands a chance to be part of the revolution. Will Amazon eventually manufacture their on-demand orders too? Will brands have a choice? If so, the options might come with a significant price tag as Amazon are likely to push their own fashion brands first. Alternatively, other brands might look into developing their own self-sufficient technology, which would come with its own challenges.

A critical point remains to be cracked however, browsing. Browsing for clothes on Amazon sucks, and it can be quite a put off for shoppers. This indeed is something various pure play fashion brands have figured out, and it’s a vital point in the shopper’s journey.

For the time being, echo look is only available in the U.S., and many aspects of the technology are in early stages, but Amazon has laid out its vision to fulfil their ambition and break into the fashion sector, influencing shopper’s experience in-home while they are living, looking and buying. How other brands react is yet to be seen.

 

Contributed by: Genevieve Dreyfus