Amazon’s first clothing store will have an algorithm suggest customers what to try on

By Alma Fabiani

Published Jan 20, 2022 at 12:22 PM

Reading time: 2 minutes

On Thursday 19 January 2022, Amazon announced that it would be opening its first-ever brick and mortar clothing store in the Los Angeles suburb of Glendale, California. Dubbed Amazon Style, the store, set to open its doors later this year, will feature women’s and men’s apparel, shoes, and accessories from a mix of well-known and emerging brands. But that’s not even the biggest news—the shop will also include algorithmic recommendations and what one corporate director called “a magic closet” in the fitting room.

As some of you may know by now, Amazon first began testing the waters of physical retail when it opened a bookstore back in 2015. Soon after, it acquired upscale supermarket chain Whole Foods for $13.7 billion in 2017. Since then, it has launched a number of other formats, including grab-and-go shops, stores that only feature top-selling items online, and even its own supermarket chain, Amazon Fresh.

When it comes to its involvement in the fashion retail industry, until now, Amazon had focused on growing its monopoly online—and boy did it succeed. According to CNBC, in March 2021, it “surpassed Walmart as the first apparel retailer in the US, and [its] apparel and footwear sales in the US grew by approximately 15 per cent in 2020 to more than $41 billion.” Those are some pretty impressive numbers we’re talking about here.

We all know that the e-commerce platform found early success with online apparel by selling a wide range of basics from both popular brands and its own private labels. It then comes as no surprise that Amazon is now opening its first physical clothing store—yet another opportunity for it to hook shoppers who might not have otherwise considered it as an apparel destination.

But how will Amazon Style function exactly? According to Reuters, model items will be displayed on the racks while customers will be able to scan a code using Amazon’s mobile app to select the colour and size they’d like to purchase. To try on the clothes, which will be stored in the back of the store, shoppers will have to enter a virtual queue for a fitting room that they’ll unlock with their smartphone once it is ready.

Inside, the dressing room will consist of “a personal space for you to continue shopping without ever having to leave,” Simoina Vasen, a managing director at the soon-to-be-opened shop, told Reuters. Each dressing room will include a touchscreen that lets shoppers request more items that staff will deliver to a secure, two-sided closet “within minutes.” Vasen went on to describe it as a “magic closet with seemingly endless selection.” Great, just what we needed.

And because this wouldn’t be an Amazon store without an algorithm somewhere to fuck with your decision-making skills, the touchscreens mentioned above will also suggest items to shoppers. Amazon will keep a record of every good a customer scans—technically, it already does so on its e-commerce—which will allow its algorithms to personalise clothing recommendations for them. Shoppers will also be offered to fill out a style survey as they enter the store. By the time they arrive in a fitting room, employees will have already deposited their requested items along with other options picked by Amazon’s algorithms. Spine-chilling, I know.

Oh, and if selling (once more) your palm print, soul and whatever’s left of your decision-making skills to an algorithm doesn’t sound good to you, Amazon did mention that shoppers will be able to opt out with a concierge’s help instead. Something tells me this option won’t be so easy to turn to though.

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