“We may have a bad rep, and that is just not fully accurate. We work just like any other retailer. We buy full-price and work hard to sell at full-price and then we follow a traditional markdown cadence like anyone else. We’re a price follower not a price leader.”
Yurcisin said Amazon’s fashion business has hundreds of buyers and the site sells more than 1,000 brands from Adidas to Hugo Boss to Levi’s. The retailer sends editors and buyers into market.
He added: “Imagine a store that’s larger than any store we can imagine, and you’re walking [into it] thinking it’s just too big, but then you walk in and you’re greeted and they now who you are. They save your favorite brands. That is what were trying to do at Amazon.”
Yurcisin, who joined the company 11 years ago and started to work with Shopbop in 2008, acknowledged that the destination has been misunderstood at times because Amazon opened up its platform and “welcomed others to sell in our store.”
While this has been critical to the e-commerce behemoth’s growth, it’s also been the reason Amazon’s fashion business is often misunderstood.
Yurcisin said that brands are encouraged to launch their entire assortments on Amazon to show their whole story, and if that presentation is executed correctly, the results speak for themselves. And if a brand voices that they don’t like they way third-party sellers are presenting their product on the site, he contended that Amazon is quick to work directly with these brands.
“I’d say come [let’s] join us and present it the way that would make your brand proud. That’s our approach,” Yurcisin said. “For the retailers that join our platform, they think of us as a great channel with 6x or 8x returns on their return on investment.”
The company has put considerable efforts into their fashion business the last few years, from the building of a 40,000-square-foot photo studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, N.Y., and rolling out advertising campaigns to raise awareness for Amazon’s fashion business.
He contended that a focus for the Brooklyn studios is creating high-end photography with stylists that “makes the right images jump off the pages.” This is something that Amazon didn’t do 10 or even five years ago, he explained. And while the studio works on producing creative for all of Amazon’s fashion properties from Amazon Fashion to Shopbop and MyHabit, he acknowledged that each has a very different customer.
Yurcisin acknowledged that the Shopbop consumer varies from the Amazon one.
He explained that Shopbop started selling to many of its consumers in their 20s and into her early 30s, the site’s core demographic. Thirty-two percent of these women visit Shopbop.com daily, and are trend-, brand- and fashion-focused.
At Amazon, he said, there isn’t one niche — the core demographic truly is anyone who is interested in buying clothes.
“We can serve those customers incredibly well, even with a broader customer target. We’re confident we can do it,” Yurcisin said. “[Jeff] Bezos was once asked who the Amazon fashion customer was and he said, ‘Anyone who buys clothes, shoes and handbags.’ And I think that’s accurate,” Yurcisin said.
He differentiated between the online luxury space, which he called a place where brands are “delivering an intentional approach,” to selling online. Luxury brands are being thoughtful in the way they build their presences online, he said, adding that if and when Amazon can deliver an experience that is appropriate for them, he would urge them to consider Amazon.
Private-label apparel is also something Amazon is contemplating. He knows the customer loves brands — and this is where the lion’s share of Amazon Fashion’s business comes from. But when the company sees gaps or there are certain brands who’ve decided not to sell on amazon.com for whatever reason — the consumer still wants a similar product. This is where private label might come in, although Yurcisin revealed no other details beyond it’s something Amazon would consider before opening stores.
“We’re getting big. Growth rates are strong, a lot faster than industry average. As we think about how to serve those customers, it’s a virtuous cycle. “We’re pouring a lot of money on top of telling stories and on the product page. I’m proud of how the Amazon product page looks on mobile.”
A big challenge for the retailer is how to fit the experience on a smartphone, but Yurcisin is confident in Amazon’s mobile efforts to date. He said it’s a place where “we think we are early,” but admitted that there is still a more to do when it comes to the small screen.
But fashion aside, Yurcisin called Amazon Prime the site’s “secret sauce.”
The service, which costs $99 a year, gives members free two-day shipping and access to Kindle books, movies, TV shows, music and early access to deals. He said that most brands do business with Amazon because of Prime, and the tens of millions of Prime members who are loyal to the site because of the service.
“We have a lock on them. It’s arguably the greatest deal in retail in the world and we are going to keep investing in that program,” Yurcisin said. “If brands aren’t selling on Amazon they aren’t [part of ] that customer’s decision set. You won’t persuade that Prime customer to shop with you.”
He called Prime a global service, one that has substantial business in Europe, Japan and India. People aren’t just shopping in the countries where they live, he noted, and Amazon is following that same trend. He compared Amazon’s shoppers and a growing global audience to users who visit U.S.-based blogs and media entities online where the majority of traffic is coming from outside of the U.S.
Then there is the question of physical retail. Online players are increasingly venturing into the offline world and although Amazon has dabbled in brick-and-mortar — it opened two pop-ups in San Francisco last year as well as a holiday pop-up on 34th Street in Manhattan — Yurcisin said the company is focused on “this online customer and winning on the phone.”