After a year of finetuning, Amazon.com’s (AMZN) “try before you buy” Prime Wardrobe shopping service is being made available to all U.S. members of its Prime subscription service.
Amazon Prime Wardrobe, first announced a year ago and available by invitation only during the beta phase, is the online giant’s answer to the growing popularity of services like Stitch Fix (SFIX) and a way for it to get more traction for its increasingly important house brands of apparel.
The idea of Prime Wardrobe is to let shoppers order items online, try them on at home, keep what they want and return the rest to the company, only getting charged for what they keep. The available assortment is not nearly as broad as on Amazon’s site and shoppers can select items from a dedicated Prime Wardrobe area of the site. The site offers clothing as well as shoes and jewelry.
In addition to Amazon clothing brands like Lark & Ro, Daily Ritual, Amazon Essentials, the service offers items from national brands like Tommy Hilfiger, Adidas, and Levi’s, among others. A number of such brands, notably Nike, have overcome reticence to being sold on Amazon, but the site’s clout is such now that it’s become an essential point of distribution.
The move signals Amazon is making progress as a fashion retailer beyond basics, raising pressure on traditional retailers from Macy’s (M) to Walmart (WMT) as well as specialized clothing chains. While it remains to be seen how much shoppers will take to this service, the potential for damage to other retailers is huge: Prime, a service launched 12 years ago to strengthen shopper loyalty with features such as free two-day shopping, now has 100 million members globally, the company said in April. And of those people, analysts estimate 80 million are in the U.S.