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Commentary: Amazon accelerating e-commerce disruption of apparel


Apparel is at a tipping point. E-commerce currently accounts for 17%-20% of total apparel sales in the U.S. Historically, when e-commerce surpasses the 20% threshold of a retail category Amazon comes in and makes a big wave, because Amazon is the main beneficiary of e-commerce capturing half of all growth in online retail. We’ve witnessed it time and time again in both media and electronics, and now it’s happening in apparel.

Amazon will accelerate e-commerce disruption of apparel by launching new services, such as Amazon Prime Wardrobe which was announced Tuesday. Dressing rooms have been a competitive advantage for traditional department stores, but now Amazon is offering dressing rooms as a service and putting them in shoppers’ homes. This is yet another nail in the coffin for traditional department stores.

The last hurdle Amazon still has to overcome is how to handle the lavish cost of free returns for customers. Over time, Amazon will use predictive analytics to make better, more accurate product recommendations (like it does for household items with Prime Pantry). For now, Amazon appears content to absorb costs and weathering the storm until it becomes the number one fashion retailer in America.

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