Struggling apparel retailer Lands’ End will be making a limited number of items available through Amazon by the end of the month, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The retailer, known for its outdoorsy apparel, will add products to the e-commerce giant from its Lands’ End sports, footwear and Canvas collections to broaden its online presence.
Sources told the Wall Street Journal that Amazon has agreed to Lands’ End's pricing scheme and will not discount the apparel beyond what Lands’ End desires.
Now that Amazon is in the apparel game in a big way, retailers like Lands’ End and Gap must decide whether Amazon is a mall they could join and profit from, or a competitor that could undermine them in the long run.
Gap Inc. CEO Art Peck said in May that it would be "delusional" for his brand not to consider selling on Amazon. But Forrester Research retail analyst Sucharita Mulpuru rebutted the strategy, tweeting that it would be “idiotic” for Gap to sell on Amazon, and that Wal-Mart, Target and Costco would all be better choices.
In an email to Retail Dive, Mulpuru explained that Amazon’s penchant for data mining, and ultimately offering similar products at cheaper and/or better prices, could doom Gap or other apparel brands that sell there. "Gap selling on Amazon is letting the fox in the hen house,” she said. Physical stores are challenged, Mulpuru added, and they are looking for new ways to create compelling experiences for shoppers: "That could be Gap-branded stores within stores. It would move a lot of the units and provide some new energy to otherwise tired apparel departments in multi-category stores."
Lands’ End is threading a difficult needle here. If Amazon is a good channel to reach more shoppers, the brand could be cutting short its effectiveness by limiting its assortment there. But flinging the doors wide open could also make Lands' End goods vulnerable to Amazon’s ultimate form of flattery — imitation.