retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Much has been made in recent weeks about Amazon.com’s foray into the apparel business, which has it serving as a portal into a number of clothing retailers, allowing people to buy from any or all of them and then checkout through the Amazon system.

Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO, has sent out the following letter to selected Amazon users:

    We asked people to find and tell us about warts in the preview version of our new Apparel and Accessories store, and they did (thank you!). While they were at it, they also bought a few things. Much to our surprise, in just the first few days of the beta, customers ordered:

    •14,487 shirts (Polo Ralph Lauren button-downs to DKNY blouses)
    •1,843 jackets (Old Navy fleece to Polartec windbreakers)
    •2,712 sweaters (Eddie Bauer V-necks to Liz Claiborne cardigans)
    •140 swimsuits (Tommy Bahama to Speedo)
    •9,408 pants (Gap khakis to Guess jeans)
    •485 skirts (Nordstrom suede to Spiegel leather)
    •1,461 sleepwear items (Marshall Field's satin robes to Lands' End
    flannel pajamas)
    •3,254 pairs of shoes (Nike Air Max to Nine West boots)
    •1,870 pairs of socks (Cole Haan cashmere-blend to OshKosh B'Gosh
    cotton)
    •2,805 accessories (handbags, watches, scarves, etc.)
    •3,287 pairs of underwear (Jockey briefs to Hugo Boss boxers). We all
    need clean underwear, right?

    The new Apparel and Accessories store is now ready to be unveiled to the rest of the world--over 400 major clothing brands offered the Amazon way, with easy navigation, a single shopping cart, your shipping and payment information already on file, etc. If you haven't had a chance to check it out yet, remember, for a little bit longer, you can get a $30 promotional certificate when you spend $50 or more in the new Apparel and Accessories store. And please do tell us what you think (just reply to this email to share your thoughts).

KC's View:
While there are plenty of naysayers and skeptics about Amazon’s long-term future, we believe that this email illustrates why the company is going to be around for a long time. It is willing to test new businesses (and just as willing to abandon those that do not succeed), it understands what business it is in (the customer fulfillment business, not the book business…it never was just a bookseller), and it does an excellent job of maintaining a relationship with the consumer through effective communication.

We’ve always felt that Amazon.com isn’t just a retailer. It actually is the world’s biggest and best loyalty marketing program…because it constantly demonstrates its loyalty to the shopper, and it tracks and caters to individual shopper behavior.

Who could ask for anything more?

(Okay, you could ask for consistent profitability…but beyond that, who could ask for anything more?)