Amazon buys Shopbop
Internet retail giant Amazon announced its takeover of online fashion retailer Shopbop earlier this week. This is its first acquisition of another US online retailer since the internet boom ended. Shopbop is a highly successful retail site that offers the hottest brands in fashion. The site was launched in 2000 by chief executive Bob Lamey and Martha Graettinger, the owner of fashion boutique Bop in Madison , Wisconsin .
The site has developed into a major retail destination for online shoppers, selling a large amount of desirable brands such as Catherine Malandrino, Citizens of Humanity and Juicy Couture. The site also offers an online purchase guide for jeans and a regularly updated ‘look book’, which helps the customers choose various outfits. Shopbop is believed to have sales of $20 million to $30 million per year, Forrester Research retail analyst Sucharita Mulpuru told the FT. According to Mulpuru, online fashion sales are currently “a large slice of online sales in the fashion industry right now”.
Amazon has said that Shopbop will continue to operate as a separate entity and did not disclose the price it paid for the retailer. The internet retailer last purchased rival sites at the height of the internet boom. It invested large amounts in several sites including Pets.com and living.com, but to little avail. Since then Amazon has concentrated on developing its online service and distribution operations with deals such as the acquisition in 2004 of Chinese online retailer Joyo.com. In 2005 the company also purchased on-demand printer Booksurge. It also acquired mobipocket, a French e-book software developer.
“Amazon has definitely been trying to get into fashion for a long time, and they’ve struggled because they’re perceived by many of the brands as being too much of a mass channel,” Mulpuru told the FT. Until now, Amazon has partaken in online fashion sales through deals with third parties. Retailers like department stores Nordstrom and Macy’s and clothing chain Urban Outfitters sell their products via Amazon and share the revenues with the online retailer. However, conventional retailers like Nordstrom and Macy’s are increasingly working on establishing their own online retail capabilities by developing their own websites. This renders Amazon’s role in their partnership redundant.
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