Amazon Prime Wardrobe – The End of the Fashion Industry as we know it?

Who doesn’t know the pain of scrolling for ages through fashion pages online to find the few pieces that you want only to learn upon arrival of the parcel that the jeans doesn’t fit quite as nice as it fits the model on the pictures, the color is a little bit off and the fabric feels and smells weird. Well, now there is no need to be disappointed anymore with Amazon’s new shipping service ‘Prime Wardrobe’. 

How Amazon Prime Wardrobe works

amazon-prime-wardrobe-how-does-it-workIf you are a Prime member in the US you have the privilege of choosing between 3 and 8 clothing, footwear or accessories items and let them be sent to you with the usual fast shipping Amazon Prime provides, without the need for paying at first. Within 7 days after receiving you try your clothes on, in the privacy of your own home. You then decide what you want to keep and what you would like to return, the box is resealable and equipped with a prepaid return shipping label. You put the unwanted items back in the box, lock it up and bring it to the next post office. You will be charged only for what you want to keep. If you keep 3 products you can be happy about a 10% discount on your order even, and a 20% discount for 5. Forgot to make your final choice and/or extended the 7 days time period? No problem, you will be charged for the full amount but qualify for the same 30-day return-shipping policies as for your usual orders on Amazon.  

Amazons Burden with Wardrobe

From a business perspective this sounds almost impossible and with certainty, Amazon is making a lot of effort with this. A return means high cost for shipping, return shipping, return checking and repackaging whereby Amazon is hardly going to be profitable with this service. With Prime Wardrobe, Amazon is facing the issue returns head on and does this not by trying to avoiding or reducing returns but by educating and encouraging the customer to make a return almost. And the risk of abuse is high. Imagine a group of preferably female friends that meet up to try out and talk about the previously ordered “fun-boxes” to be sure beforehand that they will send the stuff back anyway. Or people that indeed have a real buying intention but decide to order more than they need or want just because they can.  

These days returns are standard procedure across the entire fashion industry. What used to be a problem is well evaluated by online-retailers and often taken for granted by the average customer today. Because Amazon has established itself as one of the big product research tools the typical fashion sale is starting either on google or Amazon as research and is then draining away on big or small fashion stores, blogs or other channels. If Amazon can implement its service as planned, Amazon Prime Wardrobe will disassemble the Fashion Industry as we know it by securing this stream of interested buyers and cutting off small retailers with either small or nonexistent online shops. The market shares will concentrate on a few selections of big players, Amazon making the leader.  

Amazon’s Underlying Principle

amazon-prime-wardrobe-strategyHow the dynamics of Amazon Wardrobe will play out is best illustrated by the loyalty program Amazon Prime. What used to be a small bonus for customers through a slightly better shipping plan evolved into an extensive exclusivity that is offering an increasingly popular collection of services like music and video streaming and many more. By attracting customers with an all-round offer that is almost impossible to beat, Amazon is locking their clients in long-term so that it is not a question if to order from Amazon anymore, but how often and when. Amazon Wardrobe may not be very lucrative at first but it will give Amazon a greater market share by including more and more customers in its own programs. The result is a greater range and revenue for other products and services, which in the end brings amazon more indirect profit, and most importantly: one step closer to absolute control.