Today, we’re talking Amazon Prime Wardrobe and its implications for the future of shopping. In case you missed it, Amazon Prime Wardrobe is the eCommerce company’s recently announced initiative to deliver clothing right to your door. If you feel like you’ve been hearing a lot about Amazon lately, that because you have! The company is massive, and it’s about to get even bigger. In fact, Amazon is currently the largest internet company in the world in terms of revenue ?
While you may think of Amazon as a convenient place to buy electronics or housewares (in other words, the stuff that’s pretty straightforward and uncomplicated) the company is expanding into new markets, as evidenced by their recent acquisition of American supermarket chain Whole Foods.
If you’re not already familiar, Amazon Prime is the company’s membership-based 2-day delivery service. You sign up online, it’s $99 PER YEAR year, and allows you to enjoy two-day delivery on anything online marked with an Amazon Prime digital sticker. People across the globe use Amazon to have everything from tfheir laundry detergent to their pet food delivered.
From a retail perspective, if you know anything about fulfilment you know that two-day delivery on multiple items isn’t easy, and it requires a lot of logistics, planning, and back-end sophistication and infrastructure. But as a consumer, I don’t really care. I now expect my deliveries in two days, and if anything else takes longer, I’m always going to check on Amazon Prime first to see if the two-day delivery option is available. The bottom line is that Amazon Prime is evolving customer expectations when it comes to home delivery.
Now, enter Amazon Prime Wardrobe, a new program designed with busy humans in mind. It works much like other box services like Birchbox or Dollar Shave Club where items are delivered to your door, although the subscription fee is included in your Prime membership. Users are invited to browse clothing available on Amazon Fashion, and when you pick out three items of clothing or more than bear the Amazon Wardrobe icon, items are shipped to your door before you pay for them. This gives you the chance to try things on and see what you like all from the comfort of your home (for those who hate the shopping mall, this one’s for you).
After receiving your Prime Wardrobe box, you have seven days to decide what you’d like to keep. Once you’ve decided, you’re billed for what you keep, and what you don’t want gets shipped back. The shipping is pre-paid and you arrange the pickup via Amazon.com or the Amazon app and simply leave the box at your door. Amazon also promises that the more you buy the more you’ll save, and that customers will have the opportunity to receive up to 20% for keeping multiple items.
While the idea of subscription box services isn’t new (I’m looking at you Frank & Oak and Barkbox) what’s new here is that a company as large as Amazon is entering the fashion space to eliminate the friction to buying clothes online. The most common objection you get from people when you ask them why they don’t shop online is that they like to try things on and touch and feel the clothes. Here, consumers are going to have a week to do just that, and they don’t even have to deal with the hassle of returns. No sprawling lineups, no disorganised sale rack, no irritable sales associate. It’s almost too good to be true.
The challenge, of course, is that while Amazon may have fulfilment down to a science, they lack inspiration, aspiration, and discovery. If I go to Amazon and I know exactly what I’m looking for, such as black socks or a white t-shirt, it’s a fairly utilitarian and straightforward purchase: I search for black socks, see the results, compare prices and make a purchase.
But what if I don’t know what I want? What if I was looking to Amazon to inspire me? Where is the element of discovery that we find on other retailer’s websites? We know that fashion has long been aspirational. We can see this when we look at fashion advertising from the past 50 years. Fashion is about conveying a look or mood, and the fashion industry offers you products and garments to buy into these different ideas. On Amazon Fashion, I’m confronted with an endless sea of products that don’t even seem relevant to me. So while Amazon Fashion’s delivery service sounds awesome, I do wonder about how the company is going to win the hearts and minds of those who turn to fashion for just more than function.
While Amazon Prime Wardrobe isn’t available in Canada yet, but I’m certainly looking forward to trying it when it starts. What do you think about shopping for clothing on Amazon? Do you think this is the future of how we buy and sell? Let me know in the comments’ section below.