The Takeaway: Amazon appears on the verge of entering the fashion space, and that should make fashion retailers and designers very nervous.
When Amazon was first founded, the company's sole focus was selling books online. Today, it's one of world's biggest, most popular retailers, offering hundreds of thousands of products - including many that Amazon manufactures itself, such as electronics, home goods, even television shows.
Now, it seems Amazon is poised to try its hand at another area of product creation: the fashion industry. As Women's Wear Daily contributor Meghan McDowell reported, there are significant indications and rumors suggesting that Amazon is planning to develop its own fashion label.
McDowell reported that Amazon recently posted job listings for staff to join "the Amazon Fashion Private Label team." The listing for one of these positions indicated that the Amazon wanted to hire someone "to drive the DNA and face of a new brand."
The reporter noted that there are a number of very good reasons why Amazon is presumably entering this space. Among the most significant: Amazon's vast repertoire of collected customer data will allow the company to identify opportunities to respond to consumer trends much faster than is possible for other fashion designers. As McDowell noted, this means Amazon will be in a position to "ride the sea-change taking place in retail and fashion toward the see-now, buy-now, wear-now movement."
This development, as a previous Salsify blog highlighted, is currently having a devastating impact on the fashion industry. The six-month cycle from runway shows to products' appearance in stores is untenable, as social media ensures these looks have already been thoroughly digested by consumers before they can make any purchases. To thrive, it seems, fashion designers and retailers need to develop strategies that can speed up the process from revealing to selling.
Amazon, with its massive infrastructure and insight gleaned from analytics, will be in a prime position to leap ahead of existing fashion retailers.
"Clothing retailers need to bring their A-games to compete with Amazon."
Lessons to be learned
Amazon's move here holds several lessons for retailers, especially clothing retailers. The fact that Amazon is willing to invest substantial time and resources into an endeavor as large as developing its own clothing line is a testament to how big of an advantage the company must see in the speedy time-to-market and analytics insight it possesses, as well as their faith in creating fashion that consumers want. That in turn emphasizes how important it is for retailers in this sector - and beyond - to develop new approaches to ecommerce.
Additionally, clothing retailers need to recognize that if they are going to compete with Amazon, they must bring their A-games if not more than ever before. Their products need to offer clear advantages over Amazon's upcoming offerings. To that end, rich product content - content that accurately describes and conveys their items - needs to be a priority. Because if the products seem no different from Amazon's, retailers are going to struggle to convince consumers to choose them over the low-cost ecommerce giant.