The original retail disruptor is at it again. Having tested the market, recruited some of the biggest names in fashion to its team and orchestrated the press preview, Amazon’s much talked about own-label clothing range Find has finally hit the web.
The campaign images for its women’s range reveal a trend-led look that taps into the nostalgic aesthetic currently seen up and down British high streets.
Find’s relatively low prices should appeal to fans of H&M, Zara and the like – important at a time when consumers are prioritising value over attributes such as quality or fit when making a purchase.
However, in a market that’s been in continuous decline since July 2016, Amazon needs to ask itself how it differs from the competition. It remains to be seen whether Find will be able to keep up with those retailers who can manoeuvre from sketch to shop floor in just two weeks.
If the aim is fast fashion over classics to last shoppers a lifetime, it will need a nimble approach to make a strong impression.
In any case, consumers are increasingly buying clothing to replace what they already have rather than buying on impulse or expanding their wardrobe. With this in mind, why should shoppers move their money away from the brands they know and trust?
Of course, beyond Find, Amazon is one of the biggest names in retail. Being part of this behemoth of an online department store means it isn’t coming from a standing start and Find products will naturally begin to crop up in front of consumers.
However, the huge choice that Amazon offers can be stifling for shoppers. A search for "jeans" currently brings up almost 90,000 results, to which Find contributes 79 products across menswear and womenswear combined, so Amazon has to ensure that its customers understand what its new brand is and what it stands for if Find is going to make its mark.
Despite these enormous stock numbers, Amazon’s overall clothing sales are only enough to rank it 20th among fashion retailers in the UK. With that in mind, the challenge Find faces becomes more apparent.
It isn’t just shoppers that Amazon risks alienating – its suppliers have now become its competition.
Having made the investment in its brand, Amazon won’t want Find to disappear among the other products it sells, but simultaneously it can’t risk compromising existing relationships by undercutting its merchants or overly prioritising its own range.
So, while Find may flourish, if Amazon doesn’t strike the right balance with its suppliers it may see an impact on its wider fashion offer.
In the realm of physical products, Amazon is still associated more with electronics and entertainment goods. To counter this, the retailer is wisely looking to make a name for itself in fashion beyond just its own brand.
Consumers are increasingly demanding a experiential dimension to shopping, which can be challenging for retailers with no bricks and mortar presence. Innovations such as Amazon Prime Wardrobe – which allows shoppers to easily buy, try and return – and the StyleCheck outfit assessor will help boost Amazon’s reputation in this crowded market.
Despite continuing challenges for the overall fashion industry, e-commerce is one of the only areas of the sector showing steady growth. Online sales already make up a quarter of all spend, so Amazon’s move into private label clothing is probably a very canny move indeed – you wouldn’t want to bet against them.
Glen Tooke is consumer insight director at Kantar Worldpanel