Amazon must lose utilitarian image to achieve fashion success

10 May 2017 (Last Updated May 10th, 2017 18:30)

Amazon has made a number of strategic moves in recent years to build the fashion arm of its business in the UK.

Amazon must lose utilitarian image to achieve fashion success

Amazon has made a number of strategic moves in recent years to build the fashion arm of its business in the UK. In 2015, the retailer bought a fashion photography studio in London and has since hired experienced fashion leaders from the likes of Marks & Spencer and Primark. Following the introduction of several own-brand fashion labels in the US last year, Amazon has now launched its first UK fashion brand, FIND.

The retailer has the tools and investment needed to become a successful fashion pureplay, but needs to change its historical ‘one size fits all’ approach to retailing; the clothing & footwear market is extremely competitive and Amazon currently lacks destination appeal. Amazon must shift its utilitarian image to make the customer journey more enjoyable to rival leading players and become the “best place to buy fashion online”, as Amazon Fashion EU vice president Sergio Bucher stated. But how can the company achieve this?

Edit down product ranges and improve accessibility of content

Amazon’s extensive product range is a key strength, allowing it to attract a broad range of customers, but the retailer must edit down its ranges to create easy-to-browse selections. Though Amazon has started to build curated areas, featuring a summer holiday edit on its women’s fashion page and editor’s picks across selected categories, additional content and features are not always easy to find. Amazon must ensure complementary content is highlighted and simple for shoppers to navigate in order to drive product conversion.

Create more on-trend features and leverage Instagram

Amazon’s functional website is useful for many of its sectors, but the retailer should create more editorial fashion features for shoppers looking to browse trends including edited categories of popular items such as statement sleeves and pink clothing; this will help to inspire customers and enhance the retailer’s fashion credibility. To support this, Amazon should also leverage its existing @amazonfashion Instagram imagery, which includes blogger-styled outfits and new-in products, and highlight these on its website as other fashion retailers do.

Refine product pages to meet the high standards of other fashion retailers

Amazon must start benchmarking itself against its competitors in fashion and meet the standards they have set to become a major online fashion player. The retailer has started to mimic successful pureplays such as ASOS and boohoo.com in terms of the product imagery and information it displays – consistent product images and details about the brand, product material and care instructions. However, Amazon is not yet on par with established online fashion retailers, as the number of images it displays is often limited, there are a very few close-ups of products and there is less investment in product styling in comparison.

Additionally, product information is not currently in an easy-to-view format for customers and is split over different sections on the page, meaning shoppers have to hunt to find this. Amazon should also use catwalk videos to show products and include additional information such as model sizes and heights where possible so customers can judge how well a product will fit before ordering, thus helping to reduce returns.

Use expertise in personalisation and recommendations

Amazon must use its expertise in personalisation to target its wide customer base both online and via email marketing to increase awareness of its fashion business, drive traffic and convert customers. This is an area where Amazon can be a step ahead of its competitors, who may not have the ability to do this. Additionally, when browsing products, the retailer currently shows what other customers have also viewed, but it would be beneficial to show suggested products with which the item could be paired, as this helps customers to style a whole outfit and in turn drives spend for the retailer.