Luxury @ Amazon

Amazon’s long-awaited ‘Luxury Stores’ launched this week for Prime members in an invite-only, exclusive to the app format. The first brand to partner with Amazon was Oscar De La Renta, and the collection supposedly includes ready-to-wear, accessories, bags, jewelry, and perfume from the F/W collection.

There’s a lot to unpack here.

I obviously did not get an invite to this launch, however, I am on the waitlist. I don’t blame Amazon, my purchase history consists primarily of non-apparel items that cost me less than $10. I also can’t afford Oscar De La Renta items, so it really doesn’t matter. There are pros and cons to an invite-only launch, though:

Pros

  • Builds hype around exclusivity
  • Draws interest from everyone who wasn’t invited
  • Allows celebrities/high-earning influencers first access, leads to impactful marketing to the fan bases who are familiar with Amazon

Cons

  • A bit snobby
  • Some might take the exclusivity as a turnoff
  • Takes away from the “meet the customer where they are” mindset when only certain customers can access

To be clear, I have no idea how many people out there got to view this collection the day it launched, and I don’t mind the invite-only approach. I would like to be able to get into one of these digital Luxury Stores at some point, but I can wait.

I personally like the idea of Amazon Luxury Stores, and could see myself shopping from them one day, as I am definitely a young, aspiring consumer who loves when things show up at my door in 48 hours. I think that Amazon knows that my generation will probably bring in the majority of its sales for this, but I feel a strong disconnect with the first-launched brand.

I have no issues with Oscar De La Renta, however, when I look at the Oscar De La Renta website and its price-points, I think of an older female consumer who frequently visits her nearest Nordstrom or Neiman Marcus to see what’s new or if she needs a dress for an occasion and knows the sales associates. It’s just a profile, for sure, but I don’t think of the digitally-native consumers that I am surrounded by. With this launch, maybe Oscar De La Renta will gain some Gen Z customers that I didn’t know existed.

Say this launch had waited until there was a solid agreement between Amazon and a brand like Gucci, Balenciaga, Louis Vuitton, or any of the most popular luxury brands of 2020. That is where I see success in this. I talk about sneakers a lot, but say that Balenciaga sold their Triple S trainers or if Gucci sold their GG Marmont bags on Amazon. These are highly sought-after pieces for consumers may age, and these consumers have probably seen them worn around by so many influencers or celebrities that they follow on social media that they probably don’t feel the need to touch them or try them on before purchasing, especially when they can just return them the easy Amazon way.

Overall, I think this opens up a world of possibilities for luxury through Amazon, and it definitely makes luxury more accessible to those that can afford it. You no longer have to fly to the Oscar De La Renta store in NYC or wait 4 weeks for shipping to get the dress that your local Neiman/Nordstrom doesn’t carry when it can be delivered in two days.

These next two points are not original thought, but I’m going to elaborate on them because I think they’re important to consider, as well (coming at you from the latest edition of the Omni Talk Fast Five podcast:

  1. Search to discover vs. search to find (Chris Walton) Amazon gains both the upperhand in search to discover and search to find with luxury stores. The user can browse through all of Amazon’s future luxury stores with only the intent of discovering new products, OR, the user can go directly to Amazon to search for a specific luxury product that I’m sure Amazon will have. Once this grows, I’m sure that if I google “Balenciaga Triple S trainers,” the first link might be for Amazon.
  2. Outlet stores (Anne Mezzenga) Should Amazon expand their fashion offerings to both luxury and designer brands, the products that get returned have to go somewhere. It’s highly unlikely that they’re going to be sold for the original full price, because we all know how fashion returns work, which means that Amazon will probably sell them for a discount. There’s a lot to work out there between Amazon and the brands, but let’s be real, there’s a whole lot of potential for a an Amazon outlet. I’m thinking something like Farfetch, which if Amazon could replicate, there’s no need for a Farfetch because Amazon can probably win on discounts and it can definitely win on shipping time. Luxury brands are fighting for an end to discounting for the sustainability of their brands, but I don’t see this truly happening at least for another few years.

This just about concludes my take on Luxury via Amazon. I am excited to see where this goes. I will, of course, deem it to be a bad idea if I never get invited into the Luxury Stores.

Featured image from The Verge

Published by Emma Irwin

Emma Irwin is a passionate student of the retail industry. Freshly graduated from the University of Minnesota with a B.S. in Retail Merchandising, she will be pursuing an M.S. in Apparel Studies with a concentration in Retail and Consumer Studies in fall 2020. Career ambitions include writing a formal research paper, becoming a retail writer and reporter, and maybe being a CEO someday.

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