To many people it may seem more plausible to see Amazon expanding into food-delivery, drones, and cloud hosting services than into apparel and designer fashion, but according to a recent Wall Street analyst report, Clothing & Accessories is a category of increasing focus for the online marketplace.
Colin Sebastian of RW Baird wrote in a report last week that Clothing & Accessories now account for 7.4% of Amazon’s unit mix, up from 5.1% in the beginning of 2014.
“Amazon appears focused on building share in non-traditional categories, such as Clothing & Accessories, through a mix of first party and third party sales.”
The number of SKUs in the category grew 15% to 30.5 million in the fourth quarter. “Low industry penetration rates (about 15%), coupled with Amazon’s logistical sophistication, indicate that the company, as the leading online retailer, is well positioned to take share of an increasingly large online spending pie,” Sebastian wrote.
And speaking generally (across all categories), he said third-party units continues to outpace first-party growth. Baird’s survey suggests that Amazon-as-seller SKUs grew 29% Y/Y (+27% ex-Media), vs. 36% overall adjusted unit growth, “indicating continued 3P momentum, consistent with Amazon’s reported trends in 3P unit mix. Overall, third-party selection increased 59% Y/Y (+16% in Media categories; +69% in non-Media), or +37.7% on an adjusted basis.”
The key driver? FBA adoption. “We continue to expect Amazon to leverage its ongoing fulfillment capacity build-out to convert a larger portion of third-party sellers to FBA,” he said.