Amazon continues to explore ways to win over fashion shoppers, and that includes looking to Shopbop to be its link to big-name brands.
Amazon acquired Shopbop in 2006. Since then, the companies have largely operated independently of one another, according to the company’s president, Shira Suveyke. In a previous interview with Glossy, Suveyke said while they do remain independent, Amazon provides access to fulfillment and Prime shipping for existing Prime customers (including free two-day shipping, free returns and discounts on next-day shipping). Over time though, more brands that have partnered with the online retailer are also popping up on Amazon, whether they choose to be there or not. This strategy is no doubt aimed at helping Amazon build credibility in the fashion and apparel space, and convincing more high-end brands to sell through the platform.
“Amazon is not going to stop until they get this right,” said Shelly Socol, co-founder of e-commence agency One Rockwell. “By building confidence in brands through a relationship with Shopbop, it likely helps brands make the jump to Amazon.”
Naadam started selling on Shopbop about four years ago. Matthew Scanlan, CEO and co-founder of Naadam said the biggest benefit to working with the retailer so far has been the brand awareness that has come with the partnership. Naadam typically presents 100 styles at a time to the Shopbop merchandising team, and, on average, 15 to 20 of those end up on the retailer’s website. In addition, some Naadam products wind up on Amazon, as well. Most of the products are different across the two platforms, with 25 currently on Shopbop and 37 on Amazon.
“We don’t really see [the sales results] because [Shopbop] is listing on Amazon, not us; we don’t see those numbers. There are some brands that create restrictions. It’s almost a negotiating point; you can negotiate to not let them [sell your brand on Amazon], but we didn’t see anything wrong with being on Amazon,” Scanlan said.
Scanlan declined to share specifics around sales through either platform, but he did say selling on both has helped the brand grow and reach new customers.
Cleobella is another brand that sold on Amazon years ago, according to founder and creative director Angela O’Brien. Today the company does not sell directly to Amazon, but a partnership with Shopbop means that product is selling through both channels. A president of an advanced contemporary fashion company recently told Glossy that the brand wasn’t forced to sell on Amazon after partnering with Shopbop but felt there was some pressure put on the brand to do so.
While Amazon does not break out its fashion sales, both Wells Fargo and Morgan Stanley estimated the company would reach $30 billion in apparel sales by the end of 2018. Shopbop declined to comment for this story.
According to a January 2020 report from Coresight Research, there are currently more than 849,000 apparel product across 2,633 brands being sold on Amazon. Third-party sellers make up about 87% of all apparel listings, as of September 2019, up from 84% in February 2017. In other words, apparel brands, for the most part, aren’t yet going all in by setting up their own shops on Amazon. According to a report by WWD in January, Amazon is getting set to add a luxury platform to its growing fashion business. The platform is expected to have 12 luxury brands at time of launch; however, Amazon did not confirm those statements.
Currently, when customers visit Amazon Fashion, they can find all of the e-commerce giant’s fashion programs, which include The Shop by Shopbop, which is essentially a storefront for the retailer on Amazon. The store features styles by contemporary brands including like Vince, Theory, BB Dakota, Cupcakes and Cashmere, Equipment and Paige.
Syama Meagher, CEO and founder of consulting firm Scaling Retail, said Amazon is taking the wrong approach by focusing too much on big name brands, rather than up-and-coming designers.
“Shopbop was such a pioneer in cultivating and taking risks in new designers, and I don’t see that translating on the Amazon platform. The brands they are curating and getting onto the platform are not new, unique, emerging designers but rather mass-market brands,” said Meagher.
While the presence on Amazon can be another big awareness play for emerging brands, there is the question of access to customer data. Late last year, Nike pulled its products from Amazon in a move to better control the customer experience.
“Data is king. The more information you have to target the customer, the better to understand the buying behavior. When you don’t have that 360-degree information and data, that is where the brand will run a risk,” said Socol.