Inside Amazon’s Department Store Plans: High-Tech Dressing Rooms, Its Own Apparel Brands
Inc.’s AMZN 1.09%
planned department stores will aim to boost its apparel sales by offering shoppers a chance to try on clothes from its own private-label brands in technology-fueled dressing rooms, according to people familiar with the matter.
The department stores, which the online shopping company could open next year, will primarily function as a place for Amazon AMZN 1.09%
to sell T-shirts, jeans, and other items from its own labels, as well as a mix of outside brands that sell clothing on its website, the people said. Amazon wants to see if the potential department stores can improve the brand recognition of its apparel while addressing some of the irritants of both online and bricks-and-mortar clothes shopping, they said.
One idea that has been tested is for customers to scan QR codes of items they want to try on by using a smartphone app and for associates in the store to gather the items and place them in fitting rooms, the people said.
Once there, customers could ask for more items using a touch screen, which might be capable of recommending additional clothing based on the pieces shoppers liked. The rooms could use sliding doors for associates to bring more clothes without seeing shoppers, the people said. Robots or other forms of automation could eventually be deployed in the stores, one of the people said.
The plans aren’t completed and could change, they said.
The online shopping company has made an effort to keep its clothing concept secret, giving it a code name. The first department stores are slated to open near San Francisco and Columbus, Ohio. The Wall Street Journal first reported on the stores
Since it was founded in 1994, Amazon has aggressively pushed to expand the number of items sold online, gradually disrupting retail markets as it cemented its relationship with customers. Its online dominance helped usher many bricks-and-mortar stores into bankruptcy as shoppers gravitated more to purchasing items online. Now it is moving to inhabit the spaces those companies once commanded for decades, turning to physical retail for groceries, books, and now clothing. It sees physical stores as a promising avenue to reaching new customers and testing out its technology prowess.
The retail industry has seen a surge with people returning to physical shopping at certain points this year as lockdowns and stay-at-home mandates from the Covid-19 pandemic receded in some places. Chains including Macy’s
Inc. and Kohl’s
Corp. reported recent strong sales as shoppers restocked their closets after reducing clothing purchases last year.
The use of new tech by Amazon in physical outlets largely came with the opening of its Amazon Go cashier-less convenience stores
, which arrived in 2018. The company now has Go locations in Chicago, New York, San Francisco, and Seattle and last year said it had started to sell the technology behind the stores to other retailers.
Although the disruptive potential of Amazon’s expansions is well-known, the company has stumbled on occasion in rolling out new products, services, or stores. It launched a doomed smartphone in 2014 and shelved a restaurant delivery service
in 2019. That year it said it would close many “pop-up” stores it had opened in malls. The small shops were a showcase for such devices as smart speakers, tablets, and Kindle e-readers.
Amazon has for years focused on building its apparel sales
. This year it surpassed Walmart
Inc. as the country’s largest seller of clothing, according to a report from Wells Fargo, which predicted earlier this year that Amazon’s total sales of clothing and shoes, including those made by others, will surpass $45 billion in 2021. Amazon doesn’t disclose the financial figures of its apparel sales. Goodthreads and Lark & Ro are among Amazon brands on the site.
Fashion goods typically have higher profit margins than other items. Having physical space for clothes will enable Amazon customers to try outfits on before purchasing them and could reduce clothing returns. The company has historically given priority to gaining market share in industries over profits.
Amazon has never featured apparel in its various physical-store concepts. Its department stores are expected to sell men’s and women’s clothing and be similar to the casual styles found at such companies as Gap
Inc., according to people familiar with the matter.
Amazon rolled out private-label apparel in 2016, and it now has more than 100 brands, according to Wells Fargo.
The retailer has attempted to build out its fashion business by giving customers more options on how and where to buy. It has had a tougher time, though, scaling the high-end fashion business, with few luxury brands selling on its website.
The Wells Fargo report said Amazon’s endless-store ethos in some ways has run counter to the fashion-industry culture, which thrives on premium shopping experiences, carefully chosen styles, quality design, and brand power. Amazon has tried to rectify its shortfalls by offering features including a subscription model called Personal Shopper that provides customers with a stylist who makes personalized recommendations.
Some customers have indicated a desire for Amazon clothing stores. In a survey by Wells Fargo, shoppers listed having to pay for shipping if they aren’t Prime members and preferring the experience of a physical store among the top reasons they disliked shopping on Amazon’s website.
Many clothing brands such as Levi’s and Adidas have sold on Amazon, but others have resisted because of concerns that Amazon is down-market or that the retail company could copy their products using data on their bestsellers. Moreover, some of Amazon’s plans for its stores aren’t entirely new concepts. Nike
Inc., for example, is a retailer that has had associates prepare items ahead of time in fitting rooms if customers scan products on their phones. (Flexi-News
NFTs enter the fashion industry with tribute collection for late designer Alber Elbaz | The Drum
Perhaps the rise of the non-fungible token (NFT) should come as no surprise; it has conquered the minds of crypto-collectors and art-lovers, and is now soon to bestow its presence among fashionistas.
Following the close of Paris Fashion Week earlier this week, fashion studio AZ Factory created a series of limited-edition organic cotton T-shirts to commemorate late founder and designer – and former creative director of Lanvin – Alber Elbaz, who passed away in April of this year.
The fashion industry bade farewell to the designer on Tuesday night to mark the end of Paris Fashion Week with an iconic send-off and closing tribute runway show, marking Elbaz’s influence on the fashion industry.
Attended by many in the fashion world, the show presented by AZ Factory was titled Love Brings Love and took place at the monumental Paris tourist office building Carreau du Temple.
Some 45 fashion houses and their designers contributed a number of designs in Elbaz’s honor to celebrate his vision with a homage collection to forever immortalize his legacy and confirm that the brand will and can continue without him.
The collaboration between AZ Factory and SharpEnd to release the range of T-shirts with a unique NFT attached reflects Elbaz’s experimental nature and fearlessness at trying out new things.
Laurent Malecaze, AZ Factory’s chief executive officer, said: “Alber was at the forefront of bringing technology into fashion, so it seems only fitting to showcase the newest technologies in the market as part of one of our tribute designs in his honor.”
There are five styles available within the collection, each designed with a quote from the late designer and his signature embroidered with a grosgrain ribbon set against one of his hand-drawn prints.
The T-shirts also link to their own NFT of an original Alber Elbaz drawing, although there is a limited number of NFTs produced for each shirt. The NFT drawings contain an original identification number to verify and track its ownership, guaranteeing exclusive possession of the digital asset. (Read More on The Drum
Fashion-tech Start-up Zero10 Bets on Affordable Digital Clothing
Physical events may be coming back, but for George Yashin, founder of fashion label ZNY and digital fashion platform Zero10, a democratic and digitally enhanced reality is the only way to go.
Launching on Thursday, Zero10 is an iOS application using 3D body tracking, cloth simulation and body segmentation technology
to allow users to purchase, wear and collect digital garments from brands and create content for social media.
Yashin said he didn’t intend to break any traditional fashion industry rules or repeat what others have been doing in the augmented reality space with Zero10. Instead, he believes digital fashion is a much more sustainable and affordable way to give consumers what they want and provides the same emotions as buying new, real clothes.
“We offer the industry a new type of interaction between users and brands, and this interaction has no borders — no deliveries, no production issues, no differentiation in countries, gender, race or complexion,” he said.
“The fashion industry has been stable for years. It’s changing but not evolving in a radical way and digital fashion seems like something that can finally shift this. Endless production cycles and overconsumption seem to only increase.…It’s a vicious circle. We are very close to the consumption limit. We have almost reached it and to prevent the game from destroying itself, it is important to look into new possibilities or even build them. That’s a reason we decided to join the new course and dive into the field of digital fashion,” he added.
The platform adopts a collaboration and drop model. New items will be released every two weeks and all the collections are produced in collaboration with emerging or luxury designers. Items are usually priced around $1 to $20, which is a fraction of what other major virtual fashion platforms are asking.
For the launch, Zero10 is offering 12 unisex digital items for free from brands like Ksenia Schnaider, ZNY, AV Vattev, Florentina Leitner and Ttswtrs.
The Kyiv, Ukraine-based Schnaider said she agreed to get on board with Zero10 because its infrastructure enables the brand to transition to a more sustainable model, on top of the fact that augmented reality fashion is by nature more democratic and offers a unique experience to users. (Read More on Yahoo Fashion