First, Amazon competed with malls. Now, it’s moving inside one.
The online retail giant said Thursday that it plans to open a clothing store in a Southern California mall later this year. It’s the latest foray into brick-and-mortar sales for Amazon, which already sells more than 10 percent of all clothes in the United States.
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The store, which will sell women’s and men’s clothing as well as shoes and other accessories, will open at Americana at Brand, a mall in Glendale, California. The entry into malls could become another threat to traditional clothing sellers because of the data and shopper insights that Amazon may gain, experts say.
Amazon says its algorithms will spit out real-time recommendations as shoppers keep scanning items that they see. Shoppers can also fill out an online survey of their preferences for style and fit.
The store will be about 2,787sq m (30,000sq ft), similar in size to a Kohl’s, but about one-third the size of other department stores like Macy’s. However, it will offer more than double the number of styles as traditional stores do because only one of each piece of clothing will be on display, with the rest in the back room. Items are chosen by Amazon curators who also use feedback provided by millions of customers shopping on Amazon.com.
Simoina Vasen, managing director of Amazon Style, declined to comment on the rollout plans of the new store concept or sales projections. Amazon didn’t give a precise date for the opening of the Glendale store.
Amazon unseated Walmart as the largest clothing seller last year during the coronavirus pandemic as more people began shopping online.
Wells Fargo forecast in March that Amazon’s clothing and footwear sales in the US increased by about 15 percent in 2020 to more than $41bn. That’s about 20-25 percent above Walmart and an 11-to-12 percent share of all clothing sold in the US.
Amazon has been making a big push into fashion in recent years through its own labels and in September 2020, it launched an online shop called Luxury Stores.
Shoppers at the Amazon Style store can browse items on display and scan a QR code to see sizes, colours and customer ratings. Shoppers can send items to fitting rooms or directly to the store’s counter. Once in a fitting room, customers can request other items using a touchscreen.
“Amazon Style completely reimagines what’s possible in the fitting room, turning it into a personalized space where customers can continue to shop a seemingly endless closet of great styles,” Vasen wrote in an Amazon blog.
Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail, said the prototype store could deepen Amazon’s influence in the sector, especially among clothing shoppers who love the experience of exploring and browsing physical stores. And it could empower Amazon with more shopping data.
But he also cautioned that Amazon’s success depends on execution.
“Traditionally, it is not all that good at creating a great in-store experience,” said Saunders. “It tends to be very solid at technology and operations but can fall short on spirit and soul — both of which are particularly important in fashion where consumers love inspiration, curation, and personal services.”