Amazon steps back into brick & mortar with high-tech clothing stores
It’s Amazon’s world, we’re just living in it.
Whatever the reasons, physical visits to a physical shopping containment unit (see: the mall) rebounded last year. Not one to sit on the sidelines while consumers and their money are out there for the picking, Amazon is sliding back into brick and mortar with high-tech clothing stores called Amazon Style, starting later this year in Glendale, CA.
Previously, Amazon had graciously opened up physical book stores, returning to its book-seller roots. Then Amazon bought Whole Foods so it suddenly had a hand in the grocery business. Now it’s side-eyeing stores like TJ Maxx and Old Navy, with its foray into the physical clothing business.
There is no situation as a human, with ever-changing flesh bubbles and meat sacks, where we can simply shop for clothes online and receive a perfectly sized product. We generally have to hold up jeans while in-store, or stand in the aisle at Walmart and change shirts to make sure the fit is correct.
Shopping for clothes online always comes with a margin of error and it’s possible that Amazon looked at its clothing returns and decided opening a physical store might be cheaper.
The store will be about 30,000 square feet, smaller than Walmart but right there with TJ Maxx or Ross, and will carry everything from cheap ass clothes to fancy, expensive designer items. The brand spectrum will resemble the racks at Marshalls, focusing on women’s and men’s clothing, shoes, and accessories.
Last year it was estimated that Amazon beat out Walmart for online apparel sales. This checks out because even though mall traffic increased, you know you can’t buy anything useful at the mall anymore.
That increase is just because the Apple Store is in the damn mall. Plus, Walmart’s online presence reflects the physical store’s end-of-days commerce, so shopping online for clothes on Amazon’s website checks out.
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There will be some notable differences between an Amazon clothing store and the existing slate of clothing retailers. For one, all inventory will be kept in the back of the store. It will require a smartphone and a QR code scan of a display item to view additional sizes and colors. A slap of a button will send the item to either the fitting room or pickup counter.
The fitting rooms will be equipped with touch screens to rate items or request different sizes or styles. A hidden employee will drop the item in a secure box in the fitting room, never having to actually interact with customers. Because that’s the world we want after all. Customers will then not have to interact with a cashier, checking out with Amazon One.
Aside from never having to actually interact with a store employee, there won’t be any store discounts for Prime members. Considering the biggest benefit to Prime is next-day or 2-day shipping, that’s not a huge deal.
The real bonus is greasy touch screens in the fitting rooms and a sparse store filled with display items instead of clothing racks. It’s a weird retail future combining the deliverability of online shopping with actually getting our steps in for the day.
It’s unknown at this time what type of national rollout Amazon has planned for these clothing stores, with only the Glendale store on the calendar. Chances are the mall of the future will be filled with online retailers; the Amazon store next to the Apple store, next to the Microsoft store, next to the Tesla store. At least we’ll have a reason to leave the house?
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