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Amazon launches luxury stores to differentiate hoi polloi from haute couture

Can shopping on your phone be a luxury experience? It seems unlikely, but that does not stop Amazon’s recent attempt to get advanced brands on board its platform. Today, the company unveils what it calls Luxury Stores – a new way for brands to present their products to discerning customers on Amazon’s mobile app with the advanced ready-to-use brand Oscar de la Renta as the first official partner.

Luxury stores allow brands to create what Amazon calls a “store in a store” experience. This means giving companies more control over inventory, selection and pricing, while leveraging Amazon̵

7;s huge reach to find customers. The online retail giant will also deliver brands with the digital equivalent of smart shop windows, allowing them to display their clothes in interactive 360-degree views.

“This interactive feature begins to roll out with selected garments at launch, allowing customers to explore styles in 360-degree detail to better visualize fit and make shopping for luxury easier and more engaging,” Amazon said in a press release.

How Oscar de la Renta’s new store will appear in the Amazon mobile app.
Image: Amazon via Vogue

The feature launches with just Oscar de la Renta, but other brands will be participating in the coming months. In fact, browsing the new luxury stores is not an option for just anyone. In line with luxury ethos, Amazon is introducing some artificial scarcity. Only select Amazon Prime members in the United States will be invited to browse the digital racks, where Amazon is likely to target wealthy customers. (You can also request an invitation.)

More generally, the launch of Luxury Stores is Amazon’s latest attempt to break into high-end fashion. Although the company certainly sells a lot of clothing (it is the largest seller of clothing in the United States), these items are mostly considered “fast fashion”. The retail giant has never managed to attract or retain designer and luxury brands that have criticized the site’s shopping experience and the presence of generic brands. For example, Nike stopped all direct sales through Amazon in 2019, claiming that they wanted “more direct, personal relationships” with customers than Amazon could deliver.

Luxury stores look like an attempt to tackle this complaint, giving brands more control over the look of their little corner of the Amazon platform. Think of it as the digital equivalent of a red velvet fabric where luxury stores separate hoi polloi from haute couture.

Will it be a trade-off that brands are willing to make? Some will certainly be interested in giving Amazon 100 million premier customers attention, especially at a time when the pandemic has stifled the foothold needed to sustain many luxury stores. Oscar de la Renta CEO Alex Bolen told Vogue it just made sense to reach out to customers where they were.

“For me to get more mindshare with existing customers in addition to getting new customers – that’s the name of the game. We will be able to talk to her wherever she feels comfortable shopping, “said Bolen, adding:” This idea that you will not talk to a customer where she spends much of her time is a mistake. “

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