Amazon Tries Again to Lure Shoppers With Rollout of Luxury Stores

thehearttruth / Flickr Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) has a long history of not being able to get high-end and luxury brands to sell products on the massive e-commerce website. High-profile brands have not been convinced of Amazon’s ability to protect a powerful brand from cheap fakes and counterfeit items.

Now the online behemoth is trying again. Amazon announced Tuesday that it is launching a new Luxury Stores section with storied American fashion name Oscar de la Renta, which will feature designer fashions for pre-fall and fall/winter of 2020 including ready-to-wear clothing, handbags, jewelry, accessories and a new perfume. Childrenswear is due to launch soon.

Amazon noted that more brands will launch in the Luxury Stores in “the coming weeks and seasons.”

The Luxury Stores brands initially will be open only by invitation to “eligible U.S. Prime members.” Prime members who do not receive an invitation can ask for one at the Luxury Stores site.

Brands included in the Luxury Stores section will sell their products directly as a “store with a store” and make their own decisions about inventory, pricing and selection. Amazon provides the “merchandising tools for brands to create and personalize content” in the brand’s own “unique” voice.

Last November, Nike Inc. (NYSE: NKE) ended its store-within-a-store offering at the Amazon website. At the time, the athletic gear maker said only that it wanted to focus more attention on its own direct sales. Nike is not a luxury brand like Louis Vuitton or Tiffany, but like those brands, it cannot afford to have authentic products costing hundreds of dollars competing with fakes costing much less, and Amazon’s history of policing fakes remains spotty.

For Amazon, though, luxury goods have a strong appeal, and for analysts who follow Amazon, selling luxury goods is a big opportunity.

Last month, BofA Securities analyst Justin Post reiterated a Buy rating and a $3,560 price target on Amazon stock while the shares traded a bit under $3,350. Post based his call on a report that Amazon would launch a Luxury Stores section in September.

Noting that luxury retail remains a “significant category [for Amazon] to unlock,” Post saw a gross merchandise value opportunity in Western luxury markets of $120 billion over a period of 10 years or so. Not exactly a rocket ride based on 2019 total revenue of nearly $281 billion, but not chump change either. And as an enhancement to its own brand, Amazon adds a showy feather in its own cap.

Amazon stock traded up about 1.1% for the day shortly before noon Tuesday at $3,137.14. The stock’s 52-week range is $1,626.03 to $3,552.25. Using Post’s price target of $3,560, the potential upside in Amazon stock is around 13.5%.

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