Amazon shoppers in the UK can now add high-fashion purchases, such as a four-figure Peter Dunda evening dress or a Christopher Kane slingback heel, to their digital shopping basket.
The world’s largest online retailer has launched its luxury stores at the Amazon branch in the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, after opening a US version in 2020.
In an attempt to lift Amazon’s virtual store window, the Luxury Stores microside shows videos of models, including Kristen McMenamy and Precious Lee, posing in a European villa. It has nine designers including Elie Saab, Altuzarra and Jonathan Cohen.
Norwegian designer Dundas, which has been selling on the US version since 2020, has caused sales to grow to up to 30% of its direct-to-consumer business.
“Amazon has shown that convenience is the new luxury,” said Akiko Takashima, Dundas’ chief marketing officer. “We used to look at Amazon as a marketplace for household items. But now, with its strong return policy, there is a new confidence around buying big tickets there.”
After a nervous start, where sales were mostly entry-point items such as face masks for £ 25 and active wear, more expensive pieces have taken over over the past six months, with Dundas’ ornate evening dresses “flying” – a customer even bought four at a walk.
The luxury fashion brands are expected to offer free delivery and return and are given the choice of distributing through their own department stores or Amazons, which the website clarifies when purchasing.
Takashima said they had not seen any difference in the level of returns compared to their regular e-commerce sales. “Amazon is important to the business – the results show it,” she said. “I anticipate that Amazon will be a significant part of our revenue.”
Retail expert Mary Portas, however, questioned whether Amazon could draw on luxury fashion retail. “Do they have Burberry, do they have Gucci, do they have Dries? It does not sound like the best brands on Net-a-Porter.”
She acknowledged the lure with convenience for shoppers, adding: “Of course Amazon will answer that. But let’s not forget the pleasure of shopping designers when using that kind of dosh.”
Portas pointed out that the existing digital players – Net-a-Porter, Matches, MyTheresa – are becoming “more and more sophisticated in their offerings – with luxury it’s about curation and editing. I’ve never seen Amazon play that beautiful game. “
Portas is not nostalgic for the traditional main street and how Amazon has and can continue to influence it. “The digital is here and it will be.”
Amazon’s competitive advantage is its access to data. “Let’s face it,” Portas said. “Amazon wants enough logistics and insight to ensure that when you click on a brand, Amazon comes first.”