Amazon has long been a thorn in the side of retailers across many industries, and now, taking some by surprise, it’s giving apparel a run for its money, all without a single mirror, dressing room, or personal stylist. A new survey by digital marketing agency CPC Strategy, as reported by Retail Dive, showed that more than half of online apparel shoppers bought clothing from the online retail giant in the past six months.

According to the survey, the Amazon clothing shoppers were more likely to be men than women, who still preferred buying from specific retailers’ websites. Free shipping (31%) preference for mobile shopping (26%) low prices (25%) and ease of filtering results (20%) rounded out the reasons clothes shoppers picked Amazon over other retailers.

Fast Fashion, Not High Fashion, Rules on Amazon

Casual apparel, athletic wear, outerwear and other basics were among the items most frequently purchased on Amazon, according to Retail Dive, so high fashion needn’t be worried just yet about Amazon eating their lunch, too. But it does highlight the importance of offering customers low prices, free shipping, and a well-designed website and mobile app that lets customers drill down into their specific buying preferences.

Amazon’s private label brand Amazon Essentials, which, as the name suggests, offers low-priced commonplace commodities like polo shirts, poses a concern to retailers who sell their wares through Amazon’s platform. Evidently the cost of doing business leveraging Amazon’s massive audience comes with a price. According to Retail Dive, digital research firm L2 recently showed how Amazon uses data from brands it sells on its website to create its own versions of the products. It points to the top-selling Amazon Essentials item, a men’s cotton pique polo shirt, which is nearly indistinguishable from Dockers’ version, and sold for half the price on Amazon.

The Value of Brand Loyalty

Amazon’s size and scale enable it to produce markedly less expensive clothing than competitors, which draws casual clothing consumers who care more about price than brand recognition.

Non-Amazon clothing brands must then rely on the loyalty of their customers, for whom only the real McCoy will suffice. This presents its own challenges in courting the millennial shopper, who, according to Retail Customer Experience, are less brand-loyal than previous generations. They’re also the generation most likely to shop using mobile devices, which continues to be a necessary platform to retailers looking to reach this key demographic.

Amazon’s reach, their ability to absorb the cost of offering free shipping and returns, and their ability to quickly create and market their own store-brand clothing for a pittance gives them a big advantage over other apparel retailers, who find themselves grappling with the many rigors of competing with a force of nature like Amazon.

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