Walmart and Amazon are waging an escalating battle over your closet
- Both Amazon and Walmart are beefing up their online assortment of premium clothing offerings.
- Walmart is teaming up with Lord and Taylor and new subsidiaries, while Amazon is drastically increasing its delivery options and private labels.
- The moves come as the war between the two giants intensifies.
Both Walmart and Amazon, the biggest ecommerce players in the US, have turned their focus to clothing as they court customers online.
Walmart on Monday announced its intention to bring Lord & Taylor's many designer brands to Walmart.com, in a move to court wealthier shoppers. The move is meant to turn Walmart.com into a "premium fashion destination," according to Denise Incandela, the head of fashion for Walmart US e-commerce, in a statement about the announcement.
Walmart subsidiary Jet.com also just recently began selling fellow subsidiary Modcloth, and its entire array of premium-priced vintage-inspired women's clothing. It's expected to begin selling Bonobos brand, another subsidiary, soon.
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Amazon's initiatives include partnering with more fashion brands like Calvin Klein, Nike, Adidas, Levi's Strauss, Kate Spade and others to include as first-part offerings on their website.
A Wall Street Journal report on Thursday announced new pop-up stores in New York and Los Angeles with Calvin Klein, featuring exclusive underwear offerings, for the holiday. The stores will be equipped with Amazon Echo devices to answer questions, play music, or adjust the lighting in the dressing rooms. Amazon.com will sell the exclusive product concurrently, but other department stores will only get the new product in January.
Earlier this year, it announced its Prime Wardrobe service, which lets customers try on clothing without purchasing it for free. It recently refined the service as it moves along in its long-term beta test.
Not all of Amazon's clothing offerings are available for Prime Wardrobe, but the company says over 1 million items are. That number certainly includes its myriad private label brands, which it has launched with greater ferocity over they ear.
The number of brands now easily numbers in the dozens. It's Lark & Ro brand was featured on Oprah's Favorite Things holiday list, while a new partnership with Drew Barrymore bore fruit in the form of the brand Dear Drew.
Amazon has also released a few sportswear brands, which is still the fastest-growing segments of clothing purchases in the US, this year.
Selling clothing is traditionally one of the most difficult things to do online, and clothing sales have moved online at a slower rate than other merchandise proportionally. Prime Wardrobe and Walmart's new Mobile Returns are designed to make clothes easier to return if they don't look in person what they appeared to be online.
Amazon is now the biggest seller of apparel and accessories in the US, according to Cowen & Co. The largest sellers, however, are lower-priced items like socks and underwear, according to OneClickRetail.
The focus on higher-priced items is clear from both brands. How customers will respond, however, is a little murkier.
- Amazon Go is nearing the finish line
- Walmart's Q3 efforts point to strong holiday season
- Amazon and Calvin Klein are teaming up for a store of the future — and it could be a 'watershed moment' for clothing brands
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