Would Private-Label Fashion Fly for Amazon UK?

Probably—this market has a penchant for buying apparel online

Author: Cliff Annicelli

February 17, 2017

Amazon is reported to be prepping its own fashion labels for the UK market. Details about its plans are sketchy, but if rumors of the effort are true, the ecommerce giant will find itself chasing an audience that’s generally receptive to buying apparel and accessories online.

Speculation about Amazon’s intentions went public this week when UK fashion trade publication Drapers reported that Amazon has been luring away senior fashion design and retail buying experts from UK clothing retailers such as Marks & Spencer, Primark and Debenhams in recent months.

According to Drapers’ sources, the debut of own-label clothing lines could happen as soon as this spring—mirroring Amazon’s similar steps in the US, where it already sells fashion products under several private labels.

Provided its designs strike a chord—never a given in the fickle and rapidly changing world of fashion—Amazon is likely to find a receptive audience in the UK. Various studies have found the country’s consumers quite comfortable buying clothes online.

According to a Royal Mail Group study of adult UK digital buyers in April 2016, clothes are respondents’ top product category purchased digitally, with 51% having bought apparel online in the preceding three months. Footwear wasn’t far behind, at 28%, which put it fourth on the list after ecommerce mainstays books and CDs.

A study by PostNord similarly found clothing and footwear were the top product category purchased from cross-border ecommerce sites by UK consumers ages 15 to 79 in the 12 months prior to polling in spring 2016.

Another encouraging sign: UK consumers spend more than fashion buyers in many other countries in Western Europe. According to fashion retail ecommerce activity on client sites of ecommerce personalization platform Nosto, the average order value coming from UK buyers was the second highest in the region in the first half of 2016. UK consumers were also the most apt to make a purchase, recording the highest conversion rate (3.9%) in the region.

Clothing stores have benefitted several other retail sectors in the UK when it comes to sating consumers’ appetite for ecommerce. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) – UK, 14% of sales at clothing stores in Great Britain in 2016 came via ecommerce, the largest share for any store segment outside of digital-only operations.