Amazon is coming for high-level brands, whether they want it or not. Luxury labels in particular have been generally resistant to finding themselves featured on the online behemoth. Now prestige beauty is expected to get the same treatment (with the potential backlash unclear at this early stage). And of course, let’s not forget that booksellers and publishers were the original force of resistance against Amazon’s hegemony. They’ve been waging this war for years before fashion got into it. However, the behemoth is on its way into selling everything, especially the luxury labels who’ve deemed it a visually unfit online marketplace. Is it necessarily going to be awful?
We spoke with Avani Patel, the founder of TrendSeeder, which fosters new designers through dedicated e-commerce and an incubation program. Her raison d’être is to take them into household name territory, which at least in theory, Amazon should be great for, but isn’t. Patel is on the fence, believing that it “can both help and hurt the young emerging designer. It can help because it provides a broader distribution outlet,” however, she also noted that the aforementioned image shortcomings are a problem: “the potential downside is that the user experience on Amazon may not be in line with how a fashion label would want to interact with their customers which could negatively impact brand equity.” You get the access to better brand recognition, but the trouble is that that recognition isn’t in line with your brand’s vision.
However, Amazon has been trying to address this, rolling out features that would benefit brands better. The recent launch of Pages, which allows companies more visual control over their image on the site is one way the online giant is trying to appeal to upscale labels. Pages, which come in the form of amazon.com/brandname URLs and kind of look like Facebook, are capable of making brands look better than they usually do on the site. As an example, take a look at the page for Derek Lam’s 10 Crosby line, an example the higher bar Amazon seeks to set for luxury customers.
Now, it seems the trouble with Amazon might run more than surface deep. Data collection within the fashion industry in general is becoming increasingly necessary, but if a label’s main online presence is on Amazon, their access to said data is impeded. Patel notes the hindrance that “Amazon, not the brand, will now own the customer data, thereby making the brand reliant on Amazon. This may also lead to the brand having less negotiating power.” Neither of those things, for either established luxury labels, prestige beauty brands, or the emerging designers Patel’s program incubates, is in any way appealing.
Even as Amazon works to fix its image problem, it’ll have to find a way to work more closely with the brands it hopes to represent. The collaborative presentation of Derek Lam’s 10 Crosby line is a step in the right direction, but will Amazon be willing to go this in-depth for all its brand relationships? It looks like they might have to.