Monday, August 13, 2018
Business

Amazon will let customers try on clothes before buying

SEATTLE — For many people, buying clothing online is not worth the hassle of getting a pair of pants or a shirt that does not fit. Many retailers have sought to eliminate that risk by offering free returns on clothing, but now Amazon is going even further.

On Tuesday morning, the company revealed a new program called Prime Wardrobe that allows people to order clothing — from three to 15 items at a time — without actually buying it. Amazon will charge them only for the items they keep. Customers can return the items they don't want in a resealable box with the preprinted shipping label that the order came in.

The service will be an option only for members of Amazon Prime, the company's membership service, which, for $99 a year, gives customers fast shipping at no extra charge, a streaming video service and other benefits. The company did not say when Prime Wardrobe would be available.

It is hard to predict what impact this will have on the company's clothing sales, but it follows a pattern at Amazon of eliminating so-called friction points to online shopping that have made it surprisingly successful in the apparel category.

By the end of this year, analysts expect that Amazon will become the largest apparel retailer in the United States, at a time when many traditional brick-and-mortar retailers are closing stores or filing for bankruptcy.

And retailers received a new reason to worry about Amazon's ambitions in recent days after the company announced it had agreed to acquire Whole Foods, the high-end grocery chain, for $13.4 billion.

Amazon isn't the first online company to offer a try-before-you-buy program. The eyewear retailer Warby Parker has long let customers try on up to five pairs of glasses at home for as long as five days, with no obligation to buy any of them.

Another online clothing retailer, Stitch Fix, offers a similar home try-on service. To use it, customers must pay a nonrefundable $20 "styling fee" through which they receive personalized clothing recommendations. The fee can be applied as a credit toward any items the customer buys.

Prime Wardrobe will let customers try on more than 1 million items of clothing, accessories and shoes from brands including Calvin Klein, Levi's, Adidas, Hugo Boss and Lacoste without buying them. Customers will then have seven days to return the items they don't want.

Previously, Amazon has tried to make its customers more comfortable with shopping for clothing online by offering free shipping on returns of most apparel. This allowed customers to buy clothing and receive refunds for any items they returned.

Free shipping on returns can easily erode the profits of an online retailer if customers use the option often, but Amazon can ease the sting somewhat because it also collects fees from its Prime members.

With Prime Wardrobe, Amazon will actually discourage clothing returns in a subtle way. The retailer will cut 10 percent off the purchase price of an order for anyone who keeps three to four items, and 20 percent off for anyone who keeps five or more items.

Comments
Amalie Arena tries to lure millenials to its Firestick Grill

Amalie Arena tries to lure millenials to its Firestick Grill

TAMPA — How to attract the cool kids? This is the mantra for so many restaurants these days: That huge generation of millennials eats differently, thinks differently and spends differently than their parents. So how do you reel them in and make them ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Echelman Pier sculpture raises bird safety concerns

Echelman Pier sculpture raises bird safety concerns

ST. PETERSBURG — From the beginning, the city’s plans for an aerial net sculpture on the downtown waterfront provoked alarm from those concerned about birds."I do not think that it is appropriate to place a moving, lighted net in an important flyway ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Anti-straw movement picks up steam on beaches

Anti-straw movement picks up steam on beaches

Efforts to persuade restaurants and bars to discontinue the use of plastic straws are having a rippling effect in beach communities as well as some inland in Pinellas County.Former Treasure Island Mayor Bob Minning is spearheading efforts for the Tre...
Published: 08/14/18
Habitat for Humanity says it plans to buy back mortgages sold to house flipper

Habitat for Humanity says it plans to buy back mortgages sold to house flipper

TAMPA — Habitat for Humanity of Hillsborough County said Monday that it will seek to immediately buy back 12 mortgages that it had sold to a Tampa company with a history of flipping foreclosed houses. The announcement came a day after the Tampa Bay T...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Pinellas health officials report measles in an unvaccinated child

Pinellas health officials report measles in an unvaccinated child

An unvaccinated child has contracted the contagious measles virus in Pinellas County, according to the Florida Department of Health, which said Monday it is investigating the case. It was unclear how the child contracted the virus, according to the h...
Published: 08/13/18
Pasco looks to pave way for food trucks

Pasco looks to pave way for food trucks

DADE CITY — Pasco County wants to make it easier for food trucks to do business locally.That goes for the guy selling Georgia peaches out of the back of his van, too.The county is amending its land development code to include new rules for so-called ...
Published: 08/13/18
Tampa Harbour Yacht Club sold to Charleston-based Port 32 Marinas

Tampa Harbour Yacht Club sold to Charleston-based Port 32 Marinas

TAMPA — Port 32 Marinas, a marina owner, developer and operator, bought Tampa Harbour Yacht Club with plans to upgrade the property in the Westshore Marina District.The Charleston-based company, formerly Atlantic Marina Holdings, is renaming the mari...
Published: 08/13/18
Activist investor Elliott Management wants Nielsen put up for sale

Activist investor Elliott Management wants Nielsen put up for sale

An activist investor with an 8.4 percent stake in Nielsen said Monday it will push for the TV ratings giant, which has a large technology and innovation center in Oldsmar, to be put up for sale.Elliott Management Corp., a New York hedge fund controll...
Published: 08/13/18
Spring Hill tool man builds national business, expands local offerings

Spring Hill tool man builds national business, expands local offerings

SPRING HILL — As a youngster, Ronnie Manuele scrubbed so many old tools for his dad, a professional tool fixer, that he swore he’d never do such work when he grew up.Today, at R & R Tool Repair Inc., owner Manuele repairs tools for major companies fr...
Published: 08/13/18
TSA tests scanners that allow travelers to keep electronics and liquids in their bags when going through airport security

TSA tests scanners that allow travelers to keep electronics and liquids in their bags when going through airport security

For what feels like eons, Transportation Security Administration officers have been reminding travelers to remove all electronics and liquids from their carry-on bags and place them in a tray. At more than a dozen airports, however, passengers are he...
Published: 08/13/18