June 01, 2012 at 11:49 AM EDT
Is Amazon’s Dress Shop Hanging By A Thread?
Kindle advertisements have enjoyed prominent, almost uninterrupted placement on Amazon’s homepage since its popular ebook reader debuted nearly 5 years ago. The success of the Kindle is due in part to the prime real estate the device has occupied and the resulting exposure among Amazon’s shoppers. Each month 3% of Amazon’s 90 million unique visitors [...]

Kindle advertisements have enjoyed prominent, almost uninterrupted placement on Amazon’s homepage since its popular ebook reader debuted nearly 5 years ago.  The success of the Kindle is due in part to the prime real estate the device has occupied and the resulting exposure among Amazon’s shoppers.  Each month 3% of Amazon’s 90 million unique visitors shop for a Kindle device (with two thirds of them kicking the tires of the Kindle Fire).

Amazon Dress Shop

Recently, Amazon’s homepage advertising has grown more varied (and crowded) with rotating banners promoting various Amazon products and offers as Amazon attempts to mimic its Kindle success in other areas of its business.

Amazon’s Dress Shop, offering top dress fashions from leading brands such as Nicole Miller, Calvin Klein and Rebecca Minkoff, has been a fixture of the homepage for the past few months.  Success in the apparel category has long eluded Amazon.  Unlike its other categories, apparel presents Amazon with a host of unique challenges such as fickle consumer tastes, issues of sizing and fit and likely product returns.  The fact that the Dress Shop now shares billboard space with the Kindle suggests how serious Amazon is about succeeding here as well as in apparel overall.

Weekly Unique Visitors to Amazon's Dress Shop

Since the start of March, the Dress Shop has averaged a modest 96,000 unique visitors per week, despite the hundreds of millions of impressions its banner ads have received on the homepage.  Were it not for these ads; however, traffic to the Dress Shop would have essentially dried up as two thirds of shoppers arrive by just clicking on the homepage ads.  Subtracting this, the Dress Shop averages just 32,000 visitors to week.

The apparel industry presents a tantalizing opportunity for Amazon.  Trumpeting the Dress Shop on its homepage at the expense of more Kindle sales may not be sustainable long term, but Amazon is betting it can replicate its success in other categories and is willing to make the short term trade off to jumpstart these efforts.

Questions Amazon should consider answering as it strives for greater traction with its fledgling Dress Shop include:

  • What segments of consumers are currently shopping at the Dress Shop?
  • Where else are these consumers shopping for dresses online and what is their path-to-purchase?
  • To what extent do Amazon Mom subscribers shop for dresses online?
  • Where, beyond the homepage, can Amazon most efficiently reach and engage dress shoppers?
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