Good retail bad retail — Amazon’s fashion pop up

It’s pop ups a-go-go in London at the moment. The latest one making waves is the Amazon Fashion pop up on Baker Street which has been open for the last few days.

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The entrance to the Amazon fashion pop up

I visited on the opening morning and was looking forward to seeing how the online giant executes in real life — especially after visiting the Amazon Bookstore on my last trip to New York (see a review here).

The store was clearly signposted outside — although in a rather surprising location, away from other pop ups and not in an area known for fashion. One side of the shop was open so customers could see in to the Instagram friendly area as well as the merchandise, and the other side was used to explain the programme of experiential events.

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One of the instagram-friendly areas
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The programme of events displayed on the side of the store

I was disappointed that whilst there were two people standing inside the doors, neither actually opened the door for me (turns out one was only there to ask if I wanted to do a survey on my way out). Like so many current retail experiences, the service was a letdown in general — especially so given the “customers” at the time of my visit were mainly journalists, and there were plenty of staff milling around.

Product wise, I believe the assortment was changing every day. When I visited there were a range of brands across both menswear, womenswear and accessories — from Pepe Jeans (who were doing personalisation) to mainstream brands like LK Bennett and some of the Amazon brands thrown into the mix. I would have like to see more storytelling about the curation and the day’s theme, as well as explanation of the Amazon brands (although maybe this is a deliberate ruse to make customers believe they have discovered a new fashion brand, given the lack of “Amazon” in their names?).

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Animal print on display from one of Amazon’s own brands

It was also disappointing to see various bits of tech on display but without much explanation for customers as to how to use the devices — showing tech-first rather than customer-first thinking.

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Some tablets alongside the merchandise display

In short, I’m sure Amazon will have been testing several elements of store operations by running this pop up. However, the location and missed opportunities around curation / service, combined with the attendance mainly from journalists, industry punters and competitors means it might not give the company a true picture of what it’s like operating a fashion store. Time will tell — I’m sure there will be more physical retail from Amazon on its way.

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