Challenging times in retail

It’s no secret that times are tough in retail. This week, a few sports-related items out of Amazon (that likely went unnoticed amidst the WF-acquisition), highlight how sports retail is shifting, and gives additional cause for manufacturers and retailers to invest in technology to compete.

First, Amazon beta launched Prime Wardrobe, which will let customers pick up to 15 items to try on before buying. Adidas is one of the initial brands available in the program, which – while not yet dramatically different from the traditional returns model – still displays a growing consumer desire for flexibility.

Second, Nike agreed to sell products directly to Amazon for the first time. This is unwelcome news for retailers like DSG and Foot Locker and shows that the changing tides in retail are even more powerful than Nike’s fear of diluting its brand. It’s not a coincidence that this comes a week after Nike made cuts to staff and products to focus on reaching customers more quickly.

Lastly, Amazon is now represented on the Sports & Fitness Industry Assoc. board, joining a list of league, retailer, and manufacturer representatives. When you look at the list, it obvious one of these is not like the others.