When we think about Amazon's products, what first comes to mind is often books, electronics, CDs and video games. However, new predictions suggest that Amazon could be set to dominate another area of the retail e-commerce market in the next five years: clothing.
The study, carried out by consumer organisation the Cowen Company, found that in the United States, Amazon currently has a 5% share of the clothing and apparel market. However, by collating figures taken from its sales over the last few years, the Cowen Company has predicted that this share of the market could rise to as high as 14% over the next five years, making Amazon one of the biggest names in the world of clothing e-commerce in the process. But what factors are influencing this increase in apparel sales?
Lots of people are putting it down to Amazon's unique order fulfilment processes, which can fulfil orders faster than most other clothing e-commerce companies. In addition, Amazon has invested heavily in its apparel division in recent years, after noticing a gap in online clothing market. It has done so by employing key figures in the fashion and e-commerce industries, like the former fashion director of Barney's in New York, Julie Gilhart. It is also opening fashion photography studios in cities around the world. Amazon now employs over 30% more fashion buyers than Walmart, it's biggest competitor in the United States.
So how will this increase in apparel sales influence Amazon's order fulfilment processes and business model? Clearly Amazon's order fulfilment centres are going to be dealing with a lot more orders, if its share of the market is going to almost triple. That means either expanding or re-engineering the order fulfilment process, so as to be able to cope with the increase in orders being processed. Amazon have already been testing the idea of using robots for picking and packing, and already use some robotics in their larger warehouses in order to cope with the amount of orders they process on a daily basis. Exactly how the corporation has to adapt to deal with this increase in orders, we will have to wait and see.