It is a physical clothing store. Like, you know, a real brick-and-mortar space where you go to try stuff, buy it, and take it home. An IRL store. Google if you’ve never been there.
Amazon announced Thursday that it will open Amazon Style, its first clothing, footwear and accessories store later this year at the upscale American at Brand shopping complex in Glendale. Neighbors next door to the 30,000 square foot store will be some of the traditional clothing and department stores Amazon has lobbied over the past decade – Nordstrom, Urban Outfitters, J. Crew, H&M and others . There’s a JCPenney across the street, one of the biggest casualties of America’s retail transformation spurred by Amazon.
It might come as a surprise that Amazon, which has become America’s biggest clothing retailer since it started selling clothes in 2002, wants to open a physical store. But in-store shopping still accounts for more than 85% of U.S. retail sales, and shoppers often want to see how clothes look, feel and fit before they buy. It can also be more difficult to find new clothing brands and styles while browsing online than in person.
“Customers like to mix and match online and in-store purchases. And it’s no different in fashion,” Simoina Vasen, chief executive of Amazon Style, said in an interview. “There are so many great brands and great designers, but discovering them is not always easy.”
There are a few new things to Amazon Style and ways the company hopes to make shopping faster and more personalized for customers. However, many of the ideas that Amazon uses in the store aren’t new to the retail industry.
Most garments will be kept in the back of the store and only one sample of each item will be displayed on the sales floor. To buy it, customers will scan a QR code using an Amazon mobile shopping app, then collect it at the cash-out counter. If they want to try it on first, they can have it sent to a fitting room, which has touch screens where customers can request different sizes or colors. As customers browse the store and scan items, Amazon’s algorithms will recommend other items they might be interested in buying.
Vasen said the store is a “truly unique experience,” but similar technology can be found at other retailers. At Nike flagship stores, for example, members of the Nike app scan codes on sneakers and apparel and those items are sent directly to a fitting room. Clothing brand Reformation only displays one item of each item in its showrooms, and anything customers want to try on is delivered straight to dressing rooms which have different lighting options. American Eagle and others have tested interactive fitting rooms, where shoppers can request different sizes and styles on an in-room tablet.
Amazon Style will offer a mix of hundreds of well-known brands (Vasen didn’t specify which) and its own private labels. Retail analysts said a physical presence in apparel could help Amazon reach customers who want to shop in person and also spur the growth of Amazon’s more profitable but lesser-known private labels.
Other advantages of a physical store: Customers can also drop off their Amazon returns in store, or order online and pick them up on site.
Amazon has been working on this apparel initiative for years, said Vasen, who helped build Amazon’s physical presence in stores and also ran Amazon’s Prime Now grocery delivery service. She didn’t say when the first Amazon Style store will open this year or how many Amazon plans to add in the future.
Amazon Style will be the company’s latest attempt to break into brick-and-mortar retail, an area it has struggled to break into.
In 2015, Amazon opened its first physical store, Amazon Books, in Seattle. Two years later, Amazon bought Whole Foods’ 471 stores for $13.7 billion. The company also has dozens of 4-star stores, where it sells its top-rated merchandise, and cashierless convenience stores Amazon Go. different from Whole Foods’ high-end clientele.
As of December 31, 2020, Amazon had 611 physical stores in North America, including Whole Foods, according to its latest annual report.
Amazon hasn’t had the same level of success with physical stores as it has online. Amazon physical store sales fell 0.18% in 2019 from a year earlier to $17.2 billion and 5.6% in 2020 as more shoppers ordered online during the pandemic.
In its latest results for the nine months ending September 30, Amazon’s sales in physical stores were up 1.5% from the same period a year earlier.