Amazon is hoping social media influencers can help it sell more fashion.
On Wednesday, the company launched its first fashion collection created by a social-media influencer — Paola Alberdi, a stylist with 1 million followers on Instagram. The collection includes dresses, blouses and other clothing items that will only be available on the Amazon app and website for 30 hours.
The brand Supreme pioneered the “drop” sales tactic, where it releases a limited number of new clothes on a weekly basis, instead of a new collection each season. Now other brands like Amazon are using it to create scarcity and hype around products.
Amazon is also rolling out a new feature called “StyleSnap” on Wednesday, which uses image recognition and deep learning to identify a clothing item from a photo a customer uploads. It then recommends similar products on Amazon. For example, customers could upload a photo of an influencer’s shirt that they like and find a similar option on Amazon.
Amazon (AMZN) has had its eye on fashion in recent years, including launching its own private label clothing brands and the Echo Look, which uses cameras to give users advice on what outfit to wear.
It unveiled the concept for the influencer project, called “The Drop,” in May. The items in the collections are made to order to cut down on waste, and can become available at any time. Other influencers Amazon is working with include Emi Suzuki, Sierra Furtado, Leonie Hanne and Patricia Bright.
Some experts say the increasingly popular “drop” strategy enables modern-day impulse buying on somewhat exclusive items.
“This time window often creates this scarcity factor,” said Anindya Ghose, a professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business. “There’s a nudge and pressure on customers to act within that period.”
Influencers are also successful at driving a quick response from their followers, according to Lauren McGrath, VP of studio and strategy at influencer marketing platform Activate.
“Influencers have the power to direct audiences immediately, and generate an immediate response through a swipe or a tap,” she said. “Consumers will feel like they’re getting their hands on something one-of-a-kind or limited edition.”
The company already has an influencer program, where social media stars can create a page, recommend products they like on Amazon and earn commission on sales.
People often find fashion inspiration on social media, but it hasn’t always been easy to purchase those looks or items. Companies such as Amazon and Instagram are trying to fix that and capture those sales. Instagram, for example, has rolled out a number of tools for shopping in recent years, while other apps like ScreenShop let users purchase clothing and accessories they see on social media or on the street by taking a photo or screenshot on their phone.
But Amazon’s dominance in e-commerce could give it an edge. It’s already expected to overtake Walmart (WMT) as the largest clothing seller in the United States, according to Morgan Stanley.
“Alibaba (BABA) has started using influencer marketing on its own platforms and it’s seen success,” said NYU’s Ghose. “I’m very optimistic we’ll start seeing impact here [with Amazon].”