Internet retail giant Amazon.com, Inc. (“Amazon”) is no stranger to apparel sales. According to a Slice Intelligence study, Amazon accounts for 16.6% of “all apparel sales among U.S. consumers aged 18 to 34.” That’s number one, ahead of Nordstrom, Inc. which has 8.1% market share. Now, Amazon is offering Prime Wardrobe, a try-before-you-buy program available to Amazon Prime members that should revolutionize the way we buy our clothing.

How Does Prime Wardrobe Work?

Over 1 million items in the Apparel category will be stamped with the Prime Wardrobe logo. This includes items across subcategories – in women’s, men’s and children’s apparel. As long as a shopper selects at least three items across subcategories, Amazon will ship for free, and the shopper has a week to send back anything they don’t like or that doesn’t fit. If a buyer keeps five or more items, they receive a 20% discount on the total purchase price, 10% if they keep three or four items. Some big brands are going to be available, such as Adidas, Levi’s, Hugo Boss and more.

What About Returns?

You may wonder about returns. Sure, you may be allowed to return unwanted items, but how much does that cost? Well, nothing. A prepaid label and resealable box are included in your order, and you don’t have to take the box anywhere. Just put it on your doorstep and request pickup. Or, if you’re worried about theft, just drop it off at a UPS location. It seems that Amazon took a lesson from Zappos, who has offered free returns since their inception.

What Impact Will This Have on Brick and Mortar Apparel Stores?

The jury is out on what impact Amazon’s new offering will have on the brick and mortar clothing retailers of the world. Some people do like to shop in person, but the convenience of having items delivered to your door with no obligation might prove to be very attractive to even shoppers reluctant to buy online. Business Insider reported that Ike Boruchow, analyst at Wells Fargo, says that this program is “another nail into the department store coffin.”

Can Third-Party Sellers Participate?

Nothing definitive has been released by Amazon, but in the comments of an article about Prime Wardrobe Ina Steiner, eCommerce expert and editor at ecommercebytes, said, “Note that apparel is a closely held category on Amazon, and 3P merchants who are allowed to sell clothing may never make it into the Wardrobe program.” Many of the sellers who participated in the comments said that they would not want to participate in the program, as potential losses for 3P sellers could be too much. And, with seven whole days before a return is due, the program could potentially cause inventory issues. Time will tell, and you know we’ll keep you updated as we learn more.

Is Prime Wardrobe Available To Everyone?

Prime Wardrobe is in beta mode, but you can sign up to be notified when it launches officially. All Prime members will be able to use the service at no additional cost. With 80 million Americans in that group of Prime members, the program could see a lot of success once it is available to everyone.

Stay tuned to the eComEngine blog for news about what’s going on in the eCommerce world.

Liz Fickenscher

As the Business Development Lead for eComEngine, Liz Fickenscher is committed to providing valuable information to Amazon Sellers through blog posts and informational webinars. Liz is the affiliate ambassador, engaging with customers and strategic partners to build relationships between eComEngine and the eCommerce industry.