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Amazon’s Newest Project: Apparel Boutiques

RETAIL: E-commerce giant opens shop at Glendale mall.

As in-person shopping returns from the pandemic, Amazon.com Inc. has opened its first brick-and-mortar apparel store in Glendale.

Amazon Style debuted on May 25 at the Caruso mall the Americana at Brand, where Amazon’s first foray into clothing retail incorporates Amazon technology to help customers find clothes and personalize their purchases as well as cut down on the time for the shopping process. 

Regarding retail real estate, Amazon has an extensive leasing partnership with Caruso. Amazon Style is the second Amazon store to open at Americana at Brand after Amazon 4-star, which launched at the retail center in 2019. In addition to the Americana at Brand, Caruso’s Palisades Village and Waterside at Marina Del Rey are home to Amazon Books, while The Promenade at Westlake and Encino Marketplace are set to welcome Amazon Fresh grocery store locations later this year.

“Once again, the most innovative companies in the world have chosen to launch their latest retail concepts with us,” Caruso Chief Executive Rick Caruso said in a statement. “Our passion for innovation hasn’t stopped since we changed the face of retail over 20 years ago, and we have long been the first choice for digitally native brands entering the brick-and-mortar space. We seek out brands that share our values and customer obsessed mission and know that Amazon Style will introduce a new gold standard in personalized guest experience.” 

Sunil Watumull, executive vice president of operations at Caruso, said the branding works both ways, with Amazon benefiting from being at the Americana as much as the Caruso mall benefits from having Amazon as a tenant.

Since opening, Amazon Style has been off to a strong start.

“Response has been great both anecdotally from customer response and our counterparts at Amazon Style have said both traffic and sales have exceeded expectations,” Watumull said.

Shopping experience

In the store, customers can expect hundreds of brands and styles alongside app purchasing and custom dressing rooms fitted with Amazon technology – allowing shoppers to try and buy without ever waiting in line. Using the Amazon Shopping app, customers scan an item’s QR code to see sizes, colors, overall customer ratings and additional product details. With the tap of a button, shoppers can add the item to a fitting room where all their choices will be waiting for them. Or, if they don’t need to try an item on, they can send it directly to the pickup counter.

The fitting rooms are equipped with touch screen technology that allows customers to search for and rate items as well as look for additional sizes and styles, with Amazon employees delivering the desired items to the fitting room.

Amazon Style carries popular clothing brands of both men’s and women’s apparel and accessories including Tommy Hilfiger, Champion and Levi’s. 

Customers can also order items at Amazon’s website and request delivery to Amazon Style and have it waiting for them at a fitting room to try on. If the customer chooses not to buy the item, he or she can return it in the store.

“The shopping experience itself is unique,” Watumull said. “The curation of items and interaction is very interesting.”

Watumull noted Amazon Style’s efficiency in creating more physical space for shoppers.

“They display only one item with the remaining merchandise in back. So the store looks much larger and gives them more space to diversify the merchandise they have to offer,” Watumull said. “Because they’re displaying one each of these items, there’s a tremendous amount going on in the back store.” 

Big data advantage

Retail specialist Matthew May, of May Realty Advisors in Sherman Oaks, said that Amazon Style is the culmination of research by the e-commerce giant that has been years in the making.

“The whole clothing line concept at Amazon has been in the works for a long, long time,” May said. “They have more meta data than any shopping concept in the world. They have a huge advantage there. They know what people buy.”

May believes that Amazon has found a way to streamline the process for people to buy clothes.

“Operationally, there’s a tremendous amount of efficiency to what they’re doing,” May said. “It satisfies the need for instantaneous gratification. It should reduce the need for refunds and exchanges.”

Although payment at Amazon Style does not rely on Just Walk Out technology, Amazon has found a way to save on overhead with cashier-less concepts, similar to the strategy at the supermarkets Amazon Fresh.

“From the grocery world, the highest-priced employees are the cashiers,” May said. “They’re eliminating cashiers. That’s a huge savings. There’s a huge increase in efficiency, especially today when there’s a shortage of labor.”

May, whose son works at Amazon Fresh, is familiar with the Amazon method. He said that when an app is invisibly tallying up items placed into a cart, it’s easy for the shopper to overlook how much one is purchasing.

“You don’t even realize what you spent,” May said. “Psychologically, I don’t want to see that bill.”

Watumull said his company looks forward to seeing more Amazon locations at Caruso malls.

“Amazon represents continued innovation and they’ve brought a number of concepts to market,” Watumull said. “We would certainly welcome additional locations with the concepts they have.”

Michael Aushenker
Michael Aushenker
A graduate of Cornell University, Michael covers commercial real estate for the San Fernando Valley Business Journal. Prior to the Business Journal, Michael covered the community and entertainment beats as a staff writer for various newspapers, including the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, The Palisadian-Post, The Argonaut and Acorn Newspapers. He has also freelanced for the Santa Barbara Independent, VC Reporter, Malibu Times and Los Feliz Ledger.

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