Amazon Fashion opened its doors this week to an eager fashion tribe. Welcoming everyone to enter its 3,000+ square foot contemporary pop-up store, everyone who attended was promised a shopping experience like no other. Dwelling in London’s Bakers Street, which is not exactly the mecca of shopping, the pop-up was the online giant’s first-ever brick and mortar in the capital. I think because of this everybody was ready to indulge in what Amazon had to offer, which was the latest trends and an array of activities throughout the week.Designed to excite and entertain, it was a space that attracted attendance from various movers and shakers. Some of these people included Jennifer Fruehauf, a Digital & Retail Transformation speaker, advisor and writer. On what excited her about the store, she shared: “The things that worked were things like the minimal displays and stock on the shop floor. The way they kept the look clean and the store easy to navigate. The ability to scan barcodes with the Amazon app, pull up the product page, save the item and/or transact within the app. Daily themes with new stock and in-store events. Lots of staff visible in white t-shirts, eager to help and some interesting and surprising brands, albeit a real mix of premium-priced and mass market like Libertine Libertine next to New Look.”
“[There was] a real mix of premium-priced and mass market like Libertine Libertine next to New Look.”
Jennifer also added what didnt work: “Things that didn’t work were things like the store environment was cold and lacking identity. The staff had no view of stock on the premises, meaning a long-ish wait while they checked the stock room. There was a lack of online stock visibility: the item I wanted was being promoted in-store displays but wasn’t available to purchase either there or on the Amazon website. Lastly, there was a lack of clarity on how they would handle returns.”Other observations on the innovative concept came from people like futurist Karinna Nobbs who works at Holition and is also affiliate fashion professor at European business school, ESCP Europe. She told Katie Baron, a contributor at Forbes; “The surprise for me is that it doesn’t feel customer-focused; it feels very much about getting data to create better solutions, which effectively means there’s no value for the customer at present. The denim customisation is the only aspect that truly seems ‘added value’ and while the talks are certainly a positive thing, with all the data Amazon has it seems like a missed opportunity not to be including something like real-time trends visualisation, or even something more personalised.” Catherine Erdly, the founder of Future of Retail, was not shy to share her thoughts on Linkedin. She complimented the store for having a wide range of stock but found it odd how price points could go from an agreeable £30.00 to something costing way over £150.00. Although she found the staff friendly, she did add that the store lacked soul, “It wasn’t really clear who they were aiming at, and the product selection didnt feel very clear either. I still can’t quite reconcile the Amazon logo with a clothing store, but I’m sure that was the point of this exercise.”
I must say I agree with Jennifer’s overall thoughts of the store, which was Amazon Fashion’s pop-up was an exciting experiment. It created a buzz, but I do think that when it comes to Amazon branching into the luxury sphere, I am with Catherine, the words ‘Amazon’ and ‘luxury’ are not two words I would necessarily put together offline or online. So if they hope to make a name for themselves selling high-end brands alongside more affordable labels, then there is clearly some work still to do, especially if they wish to rule the high street the way they clearly rule online.