The digital spotlight just turned to Christine Beauchamp, an apparel and beauty veteran who is about to take the fashion reins at Amazon. And everyone will be looking to see what she and the web giant do next.
As first reported by WWD.com on Friday, the company named Beauchamp president of its Amazon Fashion division. An Amazon spokeswoman said, “She will be leading our fashion business and we look forward to having her on-board next month.”
Amazon is already on everybody’s lips in fashion. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is ready to do battle through its acquisitions of Jet.com, Moosejaw and Modcloth, and perhaps Bonobos. And brands of all sizes are trying to figure out if the company is more of a competitor or an avenue to reach digital shoppers.
The best approach to Amazon might differ from brand to brand, but there’s no getting around the giant’s power in online commerce, particularly in the U.S. A survey of U.S. consumers by Bloomreach last year showed that 55 percent of all product searches on the web start on Amazon.
And while in fashion Amazon has found success with more basic products, the company is looking for more — much more. It’s total product sales hit $95 billion last year and bulking up fashion is a key priority. Amazon has launched eight private label brands so far, introduced a live-streaming style show that looks something like HSN and is working generally to reinvent the category for the digital age.
The company in April introduced the Echo Look, an artificially intelligent style assistant that takes voice commands and has a hands-free camera. It is also looking at shaking up the supply chain and, beyond its well-publicized experiments with drones for delivery, has been looking to the future with an eye toward automation. It recently received a patent for on-demand apparel manufacturing.
Into that expansive digital empire, Beauchamp will bring her experience with both large established names and small to midsized brands.
The former Goldman Sachs analyst-turned-consultant worked her way up the ranks at what is now L Brands Inc. to become chief executive officer of Victoria’s Secret Beauty before becoming brand president at Ann Taylor and global brand president of Lauren, Chaps, American Living and Ralph at Ralph Lauren Corp.
Between corporate stops she also worked with The Boston Consulting Group, served as founding partner of Protea, which invested in small to midsized lifestyle brands, and taught as a visiting professor in fashion business at New York University.
Les Berglass, ceo of executive search firm Berglass + Associates, said: “Christine is smart…and part of L Brands’ entry into beauty. While beauty isn’t apparel, the L Brands training in vertical retailing combined with her innate smarts is a great platform for success at Amazon. Plus, like Amazon, L Brands has always cherished ‘speed to market’ as the backbone of retailing. Christine is aligned with Amazon’s commitment to a ‘friction-free’ consumer experience.”
At Amazon, Beauchamp takes over from Cathy Beaudoin, who left the company recently having helped build it into a powerhouse that continues to push forward into a new era.
“Customers are always beautifully, wonderfully dissatisfied, even when they report being happy and business is great,” said founder Jeff Bezos in a recent letter to shareholders. “Even when they don’t yet know it, customers want something better, and your desire to delight customers will drive you to invent on their behalf.”
Now that is Beauchamp’s job in fashion.
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