- Amazon is launching an apparel store, called Amazon Style, the company announced Thursday.
- The first location, based in the Los Angeles suburb of Glendale, California, will open later this year.
- Amazon has experimented with physical retail formats in grocery and books, but it has never sold clothing or shoes at those stores.
After upending brick-and-mortar retail, Amazon is opening a clothing store in the physical world.
The first Amazon Style store, located in the Los Angeles suburb of Glendale, California, will open its doors later this year, the company announced Thursday.
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.
"You'll find everything from the $10 basic to the designer jeans to the $400 timeless piece," Simoina Vasen, managing director of Amazon Style, told CNBC. "We want to meet every budget and every price point."
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.
The new store concept marks Amazon's latest experiment in physical retail. The company began tiptoeing into physical retail when it opened a bookstore in 2015, then vaulted into the space by acquiring upscale grocer Whole Foods for $13.7 billion in 2017. Since then, it has launched a number of other formats, including grab-and-go convenience outlets, stores that feature top-selling items online and even its own supermarket chain.
Amazon has spent years growing its share of apparel sales. 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. (Amazon doesn't break out apparel sales in its financial results.)
Amazon found early success with online apparel by selling a wide range of basics from popular brands and its own private labels. In recent years, it has moved upmarket by opening online luxury fashion shops.
By launching its first Style store, Amazon could hook shoppers who might not have otherwise considered it as an apparel destination.
A high-tech shopping experience
Amazon says it's hoping to fix some of the pain points found in traditional retail stores, such as the fitting room, while cutting some of the clutter that can make sales floors look daunting and disorganized.
Shoppers will rely heavily on their smartphone in order to browse the store.
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.
"This allows us to offer more selection without requiring customers to sift through racks to find that right color, size and fit," Vasen said.
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 touch-screen displays, which shoppers can use to rate items or request different styles or sizes to be delivered to their fitting room.
Each item is then dropped off in a "secure closet" in the fitting room, which unlocks after a store associate delivers the clothing. This allows customers to continue shopping without having to leave the fitting room and find an employee, the company said.
Shoppers will be able to use Amazon's palm-scanning system, Amazon One, to pay during checkout.
Like Amazon's other physical retail concepts, the Amazon Style stores attempt to blend the company's online and offline shopping experience. Vasen said shoppers will be able to access their in-store purchase history in the Amazon app.
But unlike Whole Foods stores, Vasen said the Style stores won't offer any special discounts for Prime subscribers.
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