How can a middle-brow company like Amazon become a credible source of fashion rather than merely apparel? Virginia Postrel offers a few suggestions:
Emphasize that you are providing a large market, rather than a mass market.
Mass markets spread the fixed cost of producing the same good over a lot of different buyers. They tend toward homogeneity and one-size-fits-all products. Large markets simply have a lot of people in them. A large population can transform a formerly unprofitable niche into a profitable market. The bigger the market, the more varied the goods. That’s why you find more variety in New York than in Kansas City.
The big advantage an online retailer like Amazon offers a fashion house is the chance to bring together all the potential customers scattered outside the largest cities. At the pricey end, at least, Amazon is not looking for a mass market. It is creating a large one — making room for many more niche brands and potentially for a given brand’s full line of styles. Success doesn’t depend on dumbing down fashion. And selection, not low prices, is the killer app.
Don’t be Macy’s when you can be Bloomingdale’s.
Macy’s Inc. owns both department stores, but Bloomingdale’s Inc. carries more expensive, exclusive fashion brands. Amazon’s primary site competes with middle-market Macy’s. It needs a different brand to compete with Bloomingdale’s. That could be MyHabit, its existing upscale flash-sale site, or it could be something new.