Amazon is America’s largest apparel retailer and there’s no close second – RetailWire

March 18, 2021

Amazon.com is the number one apparel seller in the United States, having overtaken Walmart in 2020 to earn this distinction.

The e-commerce and tech giant saw sales of apparel and footwear jump 15% to $41 billion last year, according to analysts at Well Fargo. The upward movement reflects a multi-year trend that no doubt got a boost as more homebound Americans went online to buy what they needed during the pandemic.

Ike Boruchow and Tom Nikic of Wells Fargo estimate that Amazon sales represent 11-12% of the total US market and between 34-35% of what is sold online. Amazon’s revenue is about 20-25% higher than Walmart’s, and its online business is seven times that of its closest rival, Macy’s, online. The two analysts expect Amazon sales to rise another $4 billion this year to $45 billion.

Amazon has benefited from a number of factors to grow its market share. The company has wielded its clout with over 100 million Prime members, fast shipping times, and responsive customer service (this includes its Zappos business, as well) to get consumers to try out their clothing essentials shopping sites.

The retail giant has responded to the opportunity by expanding its selection of private label items while recruiting third-party sellers, including Lands’ End and The Children’s Place, to sell in its marketplace.

Amazon has further sought to expand its reach by shifting to higher priced products and seeking more brand partners. The website introduced Luxury boutiques last September, with Oscar de la Renta as the first important brand partner. While a report of Brilliant suggests things have been slow, to date Amazon has provided no indication of consumer acceptance and said the brand’s relationship with current sellers is favorable.

Bringing in and retaining key partners has proven a challenge for Amazon, with some complaining that the shopping experience on the site doesn’t leverage the strengths of individual brands. A case in point is Nikewhich began a trial with Amazon in 2017 that ended in 2019. The brand emphasized its strategic plan to weed out partnerships that failed to deliver a differentiated experience to its customers and focus more on doing it itself with its direct-to-consumer business.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you think are the key factors supporting Amazon’s growth in apparel and footwear sales? What will Amazon need to improve and add in the coming years to maintain its leadership position and further increase its market share?

Braintrust

“The most important factor is simple. Convenience, convenience, convenience.”

“Despite having dedicated brand stores, Amazon still has room to improve the experience for premium brand partners.”

“That makes Amazon ‘the mall of America,’ not the main apparel retailer. I think that’s an important distinction.”

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Anne G. Cash