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Amazon’s Kicking Retailers While They’re Down (Again)

Illustration for article titled Amazons Kicking Retailers While Theyre Down (Again)

Screenshot: Amazon

In case you haven’t heard, retail is in trouble. Aside from the

Illustration for article titled Amazons Kicking Retailers While Theyre Down (Again)

Graphic: Vogue (Fair Use)

Yeah, no thanks. And that’s not even touching on the way generic brands have largely come to dominate the platform over the years and the fact that the Amazon shop format just doesn’t scream “upscale” to the average upscale shopper. That’s probably why the sneak previews of the app-within-an-app that Vogue got its hands on—with its spartan design and gold on white color scheme—look distinctly unlike the average Amazon pages that we see when drunk shopping for Guy Fieri hoodies (or anything else) on a Saturday night.


Luxury Stores feels like a jubilant victory based on Amazon’s merits and the more it just looks the the result of a perfect pandemic-induced storm. An entire country being locked inside for months on end largely turned to Amazon to get its shopping fix and is now stuck in that company’s web.

Over the company’s past quarter, subscription services skyrocketed, and the company reaped a hefty $50+ billion in retail sales. If Bezos’s ultimate goal for his company is to make online shopping synonymous with the Amazon brand, he’s doing a pretty good job.


Which is why Vogue’s interview with Alex Bolen—the CEO of luxury retailer Oscar de la Renta, and the first brand partnering in Amazon’s latest venture—is so telling, particularly when Bolen was pressed about the brand’s previous reticence to cozy up to these sorts of partnerships (emphasis ours):

I would guess that somewhere near 100% of our existing customers are on Amazon and a huge percentage of those are Prime members. So they’re already in that environment,” he says. “For me to get more mindshare with existing customers in addition to getting new customers—that’s the name of the game. We want to be able to talk to her wherever she’s comfortable shopping.”

When pressed about luxury’s perceived resistance to the world’s largest online retailer, he adds: “This idea that you don’t want to speak to a customer where she’s spending a lot of her time is a mistake.”


Amazon’s marketplace is a mediocre product. It’s rife with frauds, fake reviews, and shit that can literally get you killed. The people who keep it operating are subjected to inhumane workplace conditions and sometimes die as a result. But ultimately, to Amazon, none of that seems to matter as long as it can maintain this mediocre product’s market power, and in turn, use that same market power to strongarm competitors into playing by Amazon’s unfair rules. In the case of its luxury wing, it looks like Amazon finally managed to get the edge over one of its toughest opponents not only through brute force, but by leveraging a deadly, economy-crushing global pandemic.


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