Try before you buy hits Amazon -- Will it change the way you shop?
How Prime Wardrobe compares to other try-before-you-buy services
ORLANDO, Fla. – In Amazon's latest attempt to capitalize on its internet giant status and tap into the billion dollar fashion industry, it launched Prime Wardrobe, calling the new service "the fitting room that fits into your life." It boasts the freedom to try before you buy -- without spending a dime up front.
According to Shopify Inc. and The Fashion and Apparel Industry report, the e-commerce fashion industry revenue for 2018 is $481 billion.
But is Amazon late to the party?
Amazon just went public with the new Prime Wardrobe service late last month, but several other retailers have been doing the try-before-you-buy option for years.
How do they compare?
Trunk Club started in 2008, but was acquired by Nordstrom in 2014. It also offers a stylist who will gather information about your size, style and spending preferences. The stylist then will handpick five items from their inventory, send you a preview email to make sure you like it, and then ship it to you. You then have five days to try everything on. Trunk Club does charge a $25 styling fee, which can be credited toward whatever you choose to keep. You can then ship back whatever you don't want for free. You have to be 18 or older to order through Trunk Club and any items that are warn, altered, damaged or had tags removed will be charged to your account. Trunk Club is not a subscription service, so you are only charged the $25 fee when you order a Trunk.
Stitch Fix started offering its online styling service in 2011. It also offers members a personalized stylist who picks five items for you, based on a style quiz you take. The stylist fee is $20 and can be applied toward anything you purchase from your fix. Stitch Fix gives you three days to choose and return unwanted items before you get charged. If all five items are purchased, shoppers get a 25 percent discount on their fix. You can order on demand or choose automatic shipments. Both shipping and returns are free.
Wantable is another personal styling service that uses a combo of stylists and technology to pick items based on your budget, size and style. For a $20 styling fee, it allows you to try seven items before you buy and focuses on women's apparel, as well as fitness clothes for both men and women. Shoppers take a style quiz, just like Stitch Fix users do. Wantable also offers free shipping both ways and allows you to apply the $20 styling fee toward your purchase. It is a subscription service, but offers the option to sign up for shipments every month, every two months, or every three months. Orders ship between three-five business days. You get a 20 percent discount if you purchase five or more items from your order.
Dia & Co. is a subscription service that focuses on plus-size clothing for ladies. For a $20 styling free, you get five hand-picked clothing items tailored to your size, style and budget. You have five days to try it all on, and they provide a prepaid envelope to send back anything you don't want. The styling fee will be credited towards anything you decide to keep, and, like the others, Dia & Co. offers a 25 percent discount if you buy everything in the box.
But with Amazon Prime Wardrobe, you get to choose what you want to try on from their dedicated selection of fashion items. No stylist, no stylist fee.
Items are organized by style, like trendy, sporty, casual or romantic, and by occasion -- be it for weekend or for work.
Here's how it works:
1. Select three-eight items and Amazon will ship it to you free within a week.
2. Try at home. You have seven days to return unwanted items and only pay for what you keep.
3. Return what you don't want in the box it came in and attach the prepaid label.
4. Deliveries and returns are free.
The only catch: You do have to be an Amazon Prime member, which costs $12.99 per month, or $119 per year.
There is a $20 discount when you spend $200 or more.
Like the others, Prime Wardrobe pulls from well-known brands as well as Amazon's own lines, like Goodthreads and Amazon Essentials.
In May, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced Prime had more than 100 million members worldwide. He also said Prime members make more purchases on Amazon than non-prime members do and spend more per year.
So why is Amazon doing this?
"It's all about encouraging people to shop at Amazon," said Dr. Sean Snaith, the director at the Institute for Economic Competitiveness at the University of Central Florida. "It's going to change the landscape when you have a player that large."
Snaith said that with Amazon getting into the try-before-you-buy trend, a structural change in the retail industry is created.
He also said he believes the convenience factor will definitely lead to more sales for Amazon.
"It's moving the online experience closer to what you would experience in brick and mortar -- where you go to the store, you see something, you try it, you like it, you pay for it and now you have it," Snaith said.
Snaith also said the new service could be a big threat to brick-and-mortar retailers, many of which have been closing stores nationwide. But he said he doesn't anticipate a complete elimination of malls and stores, but instead, a shifting of what else is offered in the retail experience.
"If you lower the transaction costs for the consumer, you are going to get more transactions," Snaith said. "So, yes -- this will translate into higher sales because less effort is involved. Convenience is a key driver of online commerce."
Snaith said the try-before-you-buy model could lead to more jobs to meet the demand from consumers willing to try it.
So what do you think? Have you ever tried Stitch Fix or Trunk Club or Prime Wardrobe yet? Leave your experiences in the comments section.
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