In collaboration with competitive intelligence provider DataWeave, we aggregated data on more than 1 million women’s and men’s clothing products listed on Amazon.com. This report offers an update to, and comparison with, identical research that we undertook in February 2018.
- Across men’s and womens clothing, we recorded a total of 1.12 million products, an increase of 27.3% between February and September 2018. Listings by third-party sellers drove this jump: we recorded only a 2.2% increase in first-party listings (those products listed for sale by Amazon itself) over the period versus a 30.5% leap in third-party listings. Our latest research found that just 11.1% of all clothing products were listed for sale by Amazon, with third-party sellers offering the remainder.
- In just over six months, we have seen major brand shifts on Amazon Fashion. The number of Nike listings has slumped by 46%, driven entirely by a drop in third-party listings that followed Amazon’s partnership with Nike. The number of Tommy Hilfiger clothing products has grown rapidly, fueled by third-party sellers. Under Armour listings have grown strongly on the back of many more first-party listings.
- Amazon built much of its early success in apparel on sportswear. Our research suggests that Amazon is now rebalancing its offering, with strong growth in listings for formal categories such as suiting. We recorded a 98.6% increase in women’s suiting and blazer listings and a 52.2% rise in men’s suit and sport coat listings between February and September 2018.
- We compared selected brand offerings on Amazon.com to those on the website of leading branded clothing retailer Macy’s and found a mixed picture. If we exclude third-party sellers on Amazon and look only at first-party listings, Amazon.com offers many more Calvin Klein and Under Armour clothing products than Macys.com does. However, Amazon.com offers slightly fewer Adidas products and many fewer Nike products than Macys.com does. For many brands, Amazon remains reliant on third-party sellers.
Introduction: Slicing and Dicing 1.1 Million Clothing Listings on Amazon.com
We continue our coverage of Amazon’s expansion into apparel categories with an updated breakdown of its US fashion offering. In this report, we offer an exclusive analysis of Amazon’s US clothing offering on its Amazon Fashion site.
In collaboration with competitive intelligence provider DataWeave, we aggregated data on more than 1 million women’s and men’s clothing products listed on Amazon.com (Amazon’s US site). In the sections that follow, we cut and slice that data by brand, product category and type of seller (first-party versus third-party).
- This report is a half-year update to our report Amazon Apparel: Who Is Selling What? An Exclusive Analysis of Nearly 1 Million Clothing Listings on Amazon Fashion.
- It also complements our deep dive on Amazon’s private-label offering, Slicing and Dicing Amazon’s Private-Label Offering, which discusses the firm’s own apparel brands in detail.
- Readers may also be interested in our related consumer survey report from earlier this year, Amazon Apparel—US Survey Reveals What Shoppers Buy, Which Retailers They Have Switched from and Their Attitudes Toward Amazon as a Fashion Retailer.
In Brief: How We Got Our Data
Our data cover women’s and men’s clothing on the US Amazon Fashion site. We aggregated data in two stages:
- First, we identified all brands included in the top 500 featured product listings for each product subcategory in the Women’s Clothing and Men’s Clothing sections on Amazon Fashion (e.g., the top 500 product listings for women’s tops and tees, the top 500 product listings for men’s activewear, etc.). We believe these top 500 products represent around 95% of Amazon.com’s clothing sales. This returned a total of 2,782 unique brands.
- We then aggregated data on all product listings within the Women’s Clothing and Men’s Clothing sections for each of the 2,782 identified brands. This returned a total of 1.12 million individually listed products, which are the basis for the analysis in this report.
Fuller details on methodology are included at the end of this report. We begin by pulling out four trends from our latest research.
Four Trend Takeaways
1. Amazon’s Apparel Listings Jumped by 27%, but Very Slow Growth in Amazon’s First-Party Clothing Offering Means Third-Party Listings Are Growing Share
Across menswear and womenswear, we recorded a total of 1,121,681 individually listed products on Amazon Fashion in September, compared with 881,269 when we conducted identical research in February. Excluding out-of-stocks, our latest research recorded 1,081,164 listings.
- This represents a very substantial, 27.3% increase in total clothing listings between February and September 2018.
Amazon’s apparel offering continues to be dominated by products offered for sale by third-party merchants. As Amazon builds its fashion offering through partnerships with brands and the expansion of its private-label offering, one might expect the share of clothing offered by those third-party sellers to fall. But, in fact, we have seen the opposite: items listed by third parties now account for a greater share of the offering than they did when we conducted our previous research:
- We recorded only a 2.2% increase in first-party listings (those items offered for sale by Amazon itself) between February and September versus a 30.5% jump in third-party listings.
- Our latest analysis found that just 11.1% of all products were listed as being for sale by Amazon, with fully 88.9% being offered by third-party sellers.
- When we conducted the same research in February, 13.7% of products were offered by Amazon and 86.3% were offered by third parties.
- Our latest research found that, excluding out-of-stocks, Amazon’s first-party listings numbered 119,773 and its third-party listings 961,391.
The lackluster growth in first-party listings comes despite Amazon’s increasing emphasis on apparel, including its tie-ups with certain major brands and the expansion of its private labels.
2. Brand Shifts: Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein Listings Grow, While Nike and Aéropostale Listings Slump
In just over six months, we have seen significant brand shifts on Amazon Fashion. We chart changes in listings for the very biggest brands below and offer discussion points following the graph. The brands under discussion all ranked within the top 30 by number of products listed, either in February or September (and, in many cases, in both months).
- The 46% decline in Nike’s listings has been driven by an identical fall in the number of third-party listings for the brand. This was accompanied by minor growth in first-party listings of Nike clothing products, which remain very limited in number, at just 83 in September 2018 (see Figure 2, below). In June 2017, Nike announced that it would pilot selling directly on Amazon. Although not specified by Nike, this agreement appears to involve Amazon acting as the seller (Nike is not listed as a seller on Amazon.com). According to The Wall Street Journal, that deal was in exchange for Amazon policing counterfeits more strictly and placing restrictions on unsanctioned sales.
- Tommy Hilfiger’s strong growth has been driven by third-party listings. The brand itself is not listed as a seller on Amazon.com.
- Under Armour saw a big jump in first-party listings. On the company’s second-quarter fiscal 2018 earnings call in July 2018, Patrik Frisk, President and COO, said, “We’re dealing with Amazon like we deal with our other wholesale customers. … [O]ur business with Amazon is very healthy. We have a strong relationship and the business continues to grow, and we will continue to work closely with Amazon into the future.”
- Gildan’s jump in total product listings has been supported by an increase in first-party listings—though the absolute number of Gildan products sold by Amazon itself remains low. In the first quarter of its fiscal 2018 year, Gildan launched its full assortment of branded men’s underwear on Amazon.
- Calvin Klein struck a deal in 2017 to supply Amazon with product, and that move is likely to have supported the double-digit increase in first-party listings of the Calvin Klein brand on Amazon Fashion.
- Aéropostale’s decline has been entirely driven by a fall in third-party listings offered by an array of sellers. The brand itself is not listed as a seller on Amazon.com.
Below, we show first-party listings only (i.e., products sold by Amazon itself) for selected major brands, to show the extent to which Amazon’s own listings have driven these changes.
3. Category Shifts: Switching Focus from Sportswear to Suiting
Amazon built much of its early success in apparel on sportswear. This category heaves with brands that enjoy widespread appeal and that consumers often buy based on specification (brand, sub-brand, collection, etc.). These characteristics make sportswear an ideal launchpad for apparel e-commerce. Amazon’s sportswear offering was supported by many third-party sellers that were willing to sell these goods—including those from brands’ suboptimum ranges or, in some cases, branded sportswear apparently sourced via the gray market.
With maturity comes a shift in focus, and Amazon now appears to be rebalancing, moving from an emphasis on sportswear to a fashion offering that includes more substantial formal ranges.
Below, we break out the percentage changes in product listings by subcategory within women’s and men’s clothing between February and September 2018. Seasonal variations may partially account for some of the changes, but we note a rebalancing from sportswear to more formal categories such as suiting and blazers that appears to be unrelated to seasonal trends.
- Activewear listings have grown only very modestly in womenswear and have fallen in menswear. In part, this is likely due to the “law of big numbers,” as activewear was already one of the biggest clothing subcategories on Amazon Fashion.
- Suits are up very strongly in womenswear and menswear.
4. Amazon.com Is Outnumbering Macys.com on Some Brands…Even on First-Party Listings Alone
To place some of these figures in context, we compared a handful of brand listings on Amazon.com to the offering on Macys.com, the Macy’s US site, on October 22, 2018. Macy’s is America’s second-biggest apparel retailer after Walmart, and it offers a better comparison with Amazon Fashion than Walmart does because its offering is much more brand-heavy. Our data for Macys.com exclude footwear and accessories, as these are not included in our Amazon data.
If we focus only on first-party listings, we see a mixed picture: Amazon.com offers many more products from brands such as Calvin Klein than does Macys.com, but far fewer Nike brand products. If we include third-party listings, Amazon.com is comfortably ahead of Macys.com on all the brands listed.
It is clear that Nike’s deal to sell selected products via Amazon (with Amazon as the seller) remains highly limited in scope, as Amazon itself was selling only 83 Nike products on its site when we undertook our research.
In Detail: Generic “Non-Brands” Capture Top Positions on List of Top 30 Brands
A host of major brand names once again feature prominently among the most-listed clothing brands on Amazon Fashion. However, in the past half year, low-price generic brands have made a major incursion into Amazon’s listings, and these anonymous, often-imported goods are swamping the branded offering.
- Four unknown “brands” (which actually offer unbranded products) have captured the top positions on the list of brands offered on Amazon Fashion: brands such as WSPLYSPJY, Cruiize and Comfy are shipped to customers, apparently from China, with long delivery times of five weeks or more.
- WSPLYSPJY alone accounts for fully 8.6% of all Amazon men’s and women’s clothing listings, while Cruiize accounts for a further 3.2% of all listings and Comfy 3.1%.
- ZeroGravitee is a generic brand that was already prominent when we conducted our listings research in February. Then, it was at #9 on the list, with 9,331 products; now, it rounds off the top four, with 19,894 products.
A number of major brands have changed places in the rankings since we undertook identical research in February:
- As noted earlier, the number of Nike listings has fallen. A decline from 16,764 products in February to 9,051 in September means that Nike has slid from first to eleventh place in the list of brands with the most offerings on Amazon Fashion. On Nike’s first-quarter fiscal 2019 earnings call in September 2018, CEO Mark Parker stated, “[O]ur business with Amazon is performing well. Not a huge update here other than we’ve seen really good sell-through on a limited selection of products that we’ve offered. We’ve said before that we want to work together to elevate the consumer experience, and that’s important in any digital partnership that we enter into.”
- The number of Under Armour products listed on Amazon has grown by nearly 10% (though this is in the context of an overall 27% increase in total clothing listings), and this has nudged the brand up from 20th to 19th place.
- Free People, owned by Urban Outfitters, has entered the top 30 brand list. Our research in February recorded no clothing listings for Free People on Amazon Fashion.
- Another specialty name, Aéropostale, has dropped off the top 30 list due to a sharp decline in listings.
- The number of Gildan listings on Amazon Fashion grew significantly between February and September this year. On the company’s first-quarter fiscal 2018 earnings call in May 2018, Chief Financial and Administrative Officer Rhodri Harries reported, “[I]n January, we launched the full line of Gildan branded men’s underwear on Amazon. Sell-through has exceeded our expectations, and our men’s underwear brand is now among Amazon’s top-selling brands in this category.”
In Detail: Womenswear Growing Faster than Menswear
Our research found 676,971 women’s clothing items and 444,710 men’s clothing items listed on Amazon Fashion, yielding a womenswear-to-menswear ratio of 1.5 to 1. This compares with a ratio of 1.4 to 1 when we last undertook this research, in February 2018. A 32.3% jump in women’s clothing listings between February and September has driven that change, and the increase in womenswear listings has outpaced the 20.4% increase in menswear listings. Below, we chart the number of listings per subcategory based our September research.
In Detail: Third-Party Listings Continue to Dominate
We provide a rundown of the top 30 brands listed on Amazon Fashion below, including a breakout by first-party and third-party listings. As we noted earlier, generic brands now dominate the top spots in this ranking.
Our research has uncovered some indications that Amazon’s fashion offering is maturing:
- Notably, we have seen substantial growth in the number of listings for more formal categories and much slower growth in the number of sportswear listings. Amazon Fashion added sportswear to its offering relatively early.
- The pullback in third-party listings for Nike and the increase in first-party listings for Calvin Klein and Gildan appear to be the fruits of Amazon’s tie-ups with these brands.
At the same time, a number of indicators suggest that key facets of Amazon’s apparel offering have not substantially changed, even though the company has apparently sought to position itself as a more credible retailer of fashion:
- The rankings of most-listed products have been swamped by ultralow-price, generic clothing items that are dispatched on order from China.
- Amazon has not been growing its own inventory to burnish its credentials as a fashion retailer; the 27.3% recorded growth in total clothing listings over the February–September period was driven by a 30.5% jump in third-party listings. This means that third parties represent nearly 90% of Amazon Fashion’s offering.
So, while Amazon Fashion shoppers enjoy much greater choice than they did even six months ago, we think a greater emphasis on first-party listings would strengthen the retailer’s appeal:
- If Amazon held more first-party clothing inventory, it would mean that more products on the site would be eligible for Prime delivery. In our view, that would boost Amazon Fashion’s appeal as a shopping destination among Prime members, as some, though not all, products currently listed by third parties on the site are Prime eligible.
- We think that when shoppers buy directly from Amazon they have greater confidence with regard to product authenticity, shipping and return charges, and return policies than they do when they buy from (often-unknown) third-party sellers. And findings from our 2018 consumer survey support this: 38% of Amazon apparel shoppers we surveyed said that they prefer to buy directly from Amazon rather than from third-party sellers on the site.
A Note on Methodology
We conducted our research in two stages. Stage one involved identifying brands listed on Amazon.com:
- We defined our universe of brands by aggregating data on the top 500 featured product listings for each product type within Women’s Clothing and Men’s Clothing on Amazon Fashion, Amazon’s US apparel site. For example, we aggregated data on the top 500 product listings for women’s tops and tees, the top 500 product listings for men’s activewear, and the top 500 product listings for women’s jeans.
- We believe these top 500 listings represent around 95% of Amazon’s sales in the respective categories. On average, approximately 70% of Amazon.com visitors do not proceed past the first page of results when browsing the site. And less than 15% are believed to proceed past the second page. For this research, DataWeave searched the first 25 pages for each apparel subcategory—equating to the top 500 product listings for each—to identify all brands with a meaningful presence on Amazon.
- This returned a total of 2,782 unique brands featured on Amazon Fashion.
Stage two involved searching for listings under those brands:
- We aggregated data on all product listings for each of the identified 2,782 brands, sorted by product type within Women’s Clothing and Men’s Clothing.
- We identified a total of 1,121,681 individually listed products. Different clothing sizes for an identical product were not counted separately. Around 3.6% of these items were listed as out of stock or had no “Buy” button visible.
- We conducted our research in early September 2018.
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