THE AMAZON UPDATE
Not a day goes by without hearing some form of news from the e-commerce giant. In the wake of their acquisition of Whole Foods (raising unease and proclamations of an Amazon-topian world), Amazon announced yet another attempt to dominate the fashion vertical: the new Prime Wardrobe initiative, a try-before-you-buy service for Prime customers for free shipping and returns for apparel. The initiative also rewards bulk purchasing, offering discounts if the customer keeps three or more of the items in their order.
Amazon makes a convincing case in easing the friction and costs of returns in the fashion e-commerce space, and it seems like Nike just bought a ticket on that boat, joining competitors like Adidas and Under Armour on the Amazon platform.
It's amazing how Amazon has upended the grocery, fashion and footwear market in just two weeks. This article published on Fast Company gives us food for thought on the negative consequences of extraction-intensive platform monopolies like Amazon.
NOT ROLLING OVER
Not to be outdone, Ebay declared on Wednesday that they would match the prices of over 50,000 items on their site, promising customers the best value guarantee in America. The kicker? 'No membership' is needed to access this benefit.
Another competitor trying to soar out of Amazon's shadow is Pinterest. Through image recognition and machine learning, Pinterest's Lens visual discovery initiative is going head to head with Amazon's Echo Look to become the number one destination for fashion consumption. Though they are much more aligned to the aspirational ethos of fashion, Pinterest will have to figure out how to convert their browsers to shoppers en-masse in order to match up to Amazon's e-commerce market share.
Speaking of new technologies, a recent survey showed that 45% of retailers aim to implement AI technologies to improve overall customer experiences within the next three years. Let's hope they get a move on!
EXPANSION HOPES AND WOES
FarFetch is revving up their engines to enter the Chinese luxury market with the help of JD.com, who has just invested $397 million into the start-up. This move strengthens JD.com's portfolio in the luxury e-commerce space, and the company has committed to helping Farfetch with leads, fulfilment, and payment systems to serve China's appetite for Western luxury.
Domestically, Walmart's acquisition of Bonobos has sparked social media outrage on the part of Bonobo's millennial customers. Bonobos founder Andy Dunn explains his side of the story to Fast Company.
ARE STORES NECESSARY?
A recent study by GPShopper and YouGov showed that a significant percentage of customers feel indifferent and even anxious about shopping at physical retail stores. The respondents showed a marked preference for experience stores, and the general consensus is that digitally native brands hit that mark spot on when they open physical spaces. Their curated product assortments undoubtably play a significant role in that positive shopping experience. Showrooms designed for delivering feel-good experiences have been remarkably successful in building that close-knit relationship between small brands and their followers.
For a more transient tactic, Glossy details the advantages of the pop-up store model and how one should prep for such an undertaking.
☀️ THIS WEEK'S BRIGHT SPOT ☀️
Condé Nast might have just given up on Style.com, but their planned foray into Poland's fashion publishing market with the Vogue title showed that the media conglomerate was simply switching tracks and playing to their strengths. Joining fellow Eastern European editions in Russia and Ukraine, Vogue Poland is targeted to launch in 2018.