Aldo Agostinelli

In the wake of the increase in online purchases, Bezos has played the card of exclusive luxury boutiques, thus adapting a platform originally designed for the mass market  to the habits of a more selected audience and the needs of high end brands. I’ll tell you how the new luxury stores actually work.

Amazon has launched its Luxury Stores. We are talking about several online luxury boutiques hosted by the most famous e-commerce portal in the world. This was the platform way to “separate the mass from haute couture” to quote The Verge. An intuition that, at the time of COVID may turn out to be successful since luxury has been suffering the effects of the pandemics less than other sector, even though it has recorded a decrease in the business of 25% in 2020 (Lusso, vendite giù del 25% quest’anno. Ma ripresa già nella prima metà del 2021/The luxury market sales have decreased by 25% this year. But the sector is expected to pick up again in the first half of 2021).

From the mass market to luxury: Amazon is betting on the user experience and a sense of exclusivity

At first glance, the idea of selling luxury brands through a website also selling blenders for 14 Euros or even me-too products may seem quite inappropriate ( even though in China, Tmall has been doing it for years, now ). However, Amazon has found a way to make its user experience unique and exclusive. Its Luxury Stores, currently working only in the US, can be accessed only by invitation: just a few selected Prime customers have that privilege. The virtual boutiques layout, accessible only via mobile devices, is golden so that they cannot be mistaken. And especially, the user experience is such to simulate the one to be lived in the dressing room of a high end shop: a 360 degrees view allows customers to check garments from all angles, worn by models of all sizes and shapes and with different complexions. So you can have an idea of how you may look wearing that garment without the risks brought about by physical contact, which has become so scary during this pandemics (Amazon launches Luxury Stores to separate the hoi polloi from the haute couture).

More freedom for de luxe brands

At the moment, the only open shop is Oscar De La Renta’s, which, through Amazon has allowed a selected niche of users to have a sneak peek of their F/W 2020 collection. The launch was announced via Instagram through a video starring Cara Delevingne. The next new entries are going to be a mix of well established and new brands whose common characteristic is the exclusivity of their items. Freedom of movement is however the crucial element for the maisons: signature brands are free to decide which range of products to sell, the pricing policy and the customer care service to be offered. Users’ reviews, one of the key features of online purchases, have also been disabled, since they would not be aligned with the luxury market and would not be appreciated by haute couture brands. Last but not least, brands will be allowed to design their Luxury Stores and personalize them so as to be able to tell about their history, identity and mission, their passion for details and their uniqueness (Così gli Amazon Luxury Stores provano a rivoluzionare e incentivare gli acquisti di alta moda online/ That is how Amazon Luxury Stores are trying to revolutionize and boost haute couture online purchases).

The future of Amazon Luxury Stores

Nevertheless, Amazon’s efforts may not be enough to appeal to customers used to purchase from luxury websites such as Matchesfashion Ltd, or to convince the biggest brands to set up their Luxury Stores inside their platform.

As I have explained in “Bling, il lusso del futuro parla Instagram, indossa sneakers e usa l’AI / Bling the future talks Instagram, wears sneakers and uses AI”, the luxury market is the most technologically and digitally advanced. And competing with de luxe websites which have always focused on the user experience is not easy. 

Moreover, some brands may use Bezos’ creature as a temporary solution for this period of crisis to immediately drop it when we are back to normality. Something similar has already happened to Gilt: in 2008, during the financial crisis, the online store was used by luxury brands to sell out unsold goods.  

However, Amazon boasts a very different position and power. Having said so, results will be obvious in a few months when the new Luxury Stores will have opened and high-end shopping will be accessible for a wider, even though selected, audience.  (Amazon Wants to Make Jeff Bezos the New King of Bling).

Do you think customers who are used to buying luxury goods may get fond of Amazon Luxury Stores? Tweet @agostinellialdo

READ MY LATEST BOOK: “Bling, il lusso del futuro parla Instagram, indossa sneaker e usa l’AI Bling the future talks Instagram, wears sneakers and uses AI

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Aldo Agostinelli