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Amazon’s brick-and-mortar clothing store? All about the algorithm

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A sign is seen outside of an Amazon Go store at the Amazon.com Inc. headquarters on May 20, 2021 in Seattle, Washington.

Amazon already has brick-and-mortar stores, including for books and groceries. Now, it's looking to clothing. David Ryder/Getty Images

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There’s news that later this year, Amazon is planning to open a brick-and-mortar clothing store near Los Angeles.

Amazon’s online clothing business has been growing throughout the pandemic, with all the shopping we’ve been doing from home. But a physical location could have some advantages too.

Here’s what it would look like: Amazon says shoppers will scan QR codes for items they like. Then, staff will place those items in a fitting room, where shoppers can continue to shop on their phones or on touchscreens.

That’s quite a step up from the old department store experience, said marketing professor Barbara Kahn at the Wharton School.

“You go into a dressing room. You took all the wrong sizes in there, you gotta put your clothes way back on, and then go outside and get new clothes,” she said. “What a hassle that is.”

Amazon also says it’ll use algorithms to make personalized recommendations. The company will also be learning how people shop for clothes, according to Wendy Liebmann of WSL Strategic Retail.

“Amazon, again, will know more about you and your fashion preferences, anything else you bought online,” Liebmann said.

Amazon is just launching one store for now.

Forrester analyst Sucharita Kodali said it’s likely an experiment, much like its other in-person stores.

“You know, of which there are many. There are many in grocery, convenience, hair salons, the list goes on,” she said.

If it works, Kodali said Amazon could also sell the store’s technology to other clothing retailers in the future.

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