Amazon to open retail clothing stores

E-commerce giant Amazon (AMZN) is opening a new chain of retail clothing stores.

The first “Amazon Style” store, which will be located in the Los Angeles suburb of Glendale, Calif., will open later this year, the company announced.

The store will offer women’s and men’s clothing, footwear and accessories from a mix of well-known and emerging brands, with prices to suit a wide range of shoppers.

At approximately 30,000 square feet, the retail space is smaller than the average department store.

The new store concept marks Amazon’s latest experience in retail. The company first entered the retail space when it opened a bookstore in 2015, then acquired upscale grocer Whole Foods for US$13.7 billion in 2017.

Since then, Amazon has launched a number of other retail formats, including take-out convenience stores, stores with the best-selling items online, and even an Amazon-branded supermarket chain.

Amazon has spent years growing its share of apparel sales. Last year, Amazon overtook Walmart (WMT) as the top apparel retailer in the United States, with sales of apparel and footwear rising about 15% to more than US$41 billion.

Amazon says it hopes to fix some of the problems found in traditional retail stores, such as the dressing room, while reducing some of the clutter that can make retail floors feel intimidating and disorganized.

Shoppers will rely heavily on their smartphones to browse the store.

When shoppers enter the store, they see “display items”, showing only one size and color of a particular product; the remaining inventory for each product will be kept at the back of the store.

After logging into the Amazon app on a smartphone, they scan a QR code on the item to view additional sizes, colors, product ratings and other information, such as personalized recommendations for items similar.

After scanning the QR code on an item, shoppers can click a button in the Amazon app to add the item to a fitting room or send it to a pickup counter.

In fitting rooms, Amazon has added touchscreens, which shoppers can use to rate items or request different styles or sizes to be delivered to their fitting room.

Anne G. Cash