1. Channel: Ecommerce & Digital

Amazon To Test A Bricks-and-Mortar Clothing Store Format In LA

CNBC reports that Amazon plans to open its first bricks-and-mortar clothing store, with customers using their smartphones to choose items and communicate with staffers in a way that the company hopes will alleviate some of the “pain points” inherent in such shopping trips.

The Amazon Style store is slated to open in The Americana at Brand mall in Glendale, a Los Angeles suburb, later this year.

According to the story, “The store will feature women’s and men’s apparel, shoes, and accessories from a mix of well-known and emerging brands, with prices catering to a wide range of shoppers … At roughly 30,000 square feet, the retail space is around the size of a typical T.J. Maxx location, but smaller than the average department store.

“Customers will rely heavily on their smartphone while they shop the store, using it to view additional colors and sizes, as well as notify store employees to put an item in their fitting room.”

The story goes on:  “When shoppers walk into the store, they’ll see “display items,” featuring just one size and color of a particular product; the remaining inventory for each product will kept in the back of the store. After logging into the Amazon app on a smartphone, they’ll scan a QR code on the item to view additional sizes, colors, product ratings and other information, such as personalized recommendations for similar items … After scanning the QR code on an item, shoppers can click a button in the Amazon app to add the item to a fitting room or send it to a pickup counter.

“In the fitting rooms, Amazon has added touchscreen displays, which shoppers can use to rate items or request different styles or sizes to be delivered to their fitting room.

KC’s View:

This does a couple of on-brand things for Amazon.  It extends its bricks-and-mortar presence, allowing it to test its approach to algorithms and technology when applied to yet another segment of retailing.  And, it allows Amazon to build on an already aggressive approach to fashion retailing;  the story notes that “last March, Wells Fargo said Amazon surpassed Walmart as the No. 1 apparel retailer in the U.S., and estimated that Amazon’s apparel and footwear sales in the U.S. grew by approximately 15% in 2020 to more than $41 billion.”

One interesting thing about the new format is that Simoina Vasen, managing director of Amazon Style, says that unlike at Whole Foods, Prime members won’t get discounts.  That may be true in the beginning, but it is isn’t hard to imagine that at some point, as Amazon blends its digital and physical worlds, it could test this approach in the style store to see what kind of impact it has.

I must admit that I am intrigued by one element of the Amazon Style store – in some ways, the format seems about a decade old.

Longtime MNB readers may remember that back in March 2013, I wrote about a Seattle jeans store called Hointer, created by entrepreneur and former Amazon.com executive Nadia Shouraboura:  “Shoppers use smartphones to scan what they like, and a robotic system in the back delivers items to their dressing rooms, where they can then send for different sizes and colors via the Internet. To make a purchase, shoppers simply slide their credit cards through a machine and leave without ever talking to a single salesperson.  More than 150 styles of men’s jeans are available, and the store is designed to be a kind of bricks-and-mortar response to the e-commerce threat; people like shopping online because it is fast, efficient and doesn’t have any of that annoying human interaction, but have to deal with the fact that it also does not allow them to reach out and touch, as well as try on, products.”

Interestingly, this picture provided by Amazon is reminiscent of some elements of the Hointer experience:

You can read the original piece I wrote here.  Plus, I did an old FaceTime video a couple of months later in which I discussed the experience.

GeekWire also did a video about Hointer:

I always was impressed by Shouraboura’s vision, and disappointed that the concept did not get greater traction.  But the Amazon Style announcement suggests that she really was ahead of her time, and that technology – and consumers – have finally caught up with what she was envisioning a decade ago.

The post Amazon To Test A Bricks-and-Mortar Clothing Store Format In LA appeared first on MNB.

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