In a new report from Wells Fargo comparing Amazon’s first-quarter sales to those of traditional retailers in its coverage group, including Macy’s, Urban Outfitters and Michael Kors, among others, the bank said Amazon not only still accounts for a majority of retail sales growth, but shoppers are increasingly going to the e-tailer for apparel.
Research by the bank based on data from the Census Bureau and comScore found that Amazon accounted for 67 percent of growth in the retail market during the first quarter, while 35 percent, 33 percent and 29 percent of shoppers said in a survey that they used Amazon to shop for accessories, clothing and shoes, respectively.
Senior Wells Fargo analyst Ike Boruchow said the number of respondents shopping for apparel was “impressively higher than we anticipated given these categories have been a more recent focus for the company and have not yet garnered support from all brands.”
The increase equals a rise of 500 basis points since Wells Fargo in March completed its last survey on Amazon shopping, and the bank noted that the change is the largest for any retail category.
This growth isn’t merely happenstance — Amazon has been doing seemingly everything it can to grow its apparel and fashion business.
While the e-tailer rolled out Amazon Fashion about five years ago, over the last several months it’s made a concerted push in its private label business, launched a style program to help people get dressed, hired a string of well-known models for its spring campaign, found a new president for the segment and patented “on-demand” apparel production.
America and Europe are not the site’s only focus either, as Amazon struck a deal to buy the Middle East’s largest online retailer Souq.com and launched Amazon Fashion as a separate platform in India, where apparel is Amazon’s second most popular category, behind electronics.
Still, Wells Fargo noted in its report that brands have been “reluctant” to sell their wares through Amazon, with concerns of brand dilution and also likely a desire to drive traffic to their own web sites, which have been a focus of improvement for many retailers.
But with the struggles facing department stores, Wells Fargo said companies and brands are realizing this may not be enough and are “cautiously developing” a relationship with Amazon.
“As mall traffic continues to decline and department stores are falling out of favor, vendors need to look elsewhere for growth and Amazon is the most compelling and obvious vehicle for this,” Boruchow said in the report.
Some retailers are still steering clear, but for those newly opening up to a presence on Amazon, methods of maintaining brand control include collaborating with the site on overall presentation and ensuring that products minimally compete with those on their own sites.
“[Amazon] is clearly a threat to almost all of the retail companies in our space, and each one is taking a different approach,” Boruchow said.
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