Amazon is planning a clothing store for a Southern California mall

Amazon says it plans to open a clothing store in a Southern California mall later this year, a first for the online giant and a new challenge for already struggling traditional retailers.

NEW YORK — Amazon announces plans to open a clothing store in a Southern California mall later this year, a first for the online giant and a new challenge for already struggling traditional retailers.

Amazon announced Thursday that the store, which will sell women’s and men’s clothing as well as shoes and other accessories, will open at the Americana at Brand mall in Glendale, California.

Shoppers will receive personalized recommendations on their phone as they browse the new Amazon Style store, which features mostly non-Amazon fashion brands, the Seattle-based company said. Amazon declined to provide further label details.

The store will be approximately 30,000 square feet, a size similar to a Kohl’s but about a third the size of other large stores, such as Macy’s. But it will offer more than twice as many styles as traditional stores, as it will display one of each style while keeping the rest in the back room. The selection is chosen by Amazon curators who also use feedback provided by millions of customers who shop on Amazon.com.

The store concept is likely to add more pressure on already struggling traditional clothing sellers, especially department stores which have struggled to adapt to the shift of shoppers to online shopping which has accelerated during the pandemic.

Simoina Vasen, chief executive of Amazon Style, declined to comment on plans to roll out the new store concept or sales projections. Amazon did not give a specific date for the opening of the Glendale store.

The move is the latest foray into physical stores for Amazon, which has opened grocery stores, cashierless convenience stores and bookstores. In 2017, he bought Whole Foods Market for over $13 billion.

Amazon’s move into physical fashion stores comes as it dethroned Walmart’s top spot in apparel sales last year, helped by the pandemic-induced explosion in e-commerce. Wells Fargo predicted in a March 2021 report that Amazon U.S. apparel and footwear sales grew about 15% in 2020 to more than $41 billion. It’s about 20% to 25% above Walmart. This represents 11-12% of all clothing sold in the United States and 34-35% of all clothing sold online.

Amazon has taken a big step into fashion in recent years, including selling its own brands, and in September 2020 it launched an online store called Luxury Stores.

Still, Amazon faces challenges in attracting finicky fashion shoppers and hopes to solve the pitfalls of in-store clothing shopping by turning to high-tech features.

Upon entering the Amazon Style store, shoppers will see a curated set of items. Using the Amazon Shopping app, shoppers can scan an item’s QR code to see sizes, colors and overall customer ratings. Shoppers can add these items to the fitting rooms, or if they don’t need to try on something, they can send it directly to the pickup counter. Prices will range from $10 to $400.

Amazon says its algorithms will issue real-time recommendations as shoppers continue to scan the items they see. Shoppers can also complete an online survey about their style and fit preferences. When shoppers enter the fitting room, they find the items they requested. Using a touchscreen in their fitting rooms, they can also request other items.

“Amazon Style completely reinvents what’s possible in the dressing room, transforming it into a personalized space where customers can continue to shop a seemingly endless closet of great styles,” Vasen wrote in an Amazon blog post.

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