Amazon Wants More Watches, Jewelry—But Brands Say No

Amazon famously calls itself the everything store—but for the most part, that “everything” has not included luxury goods.

Now, the Seattle-based e-tail giant wants to expand its high-end offerings—including watches and jewelry—but brands are still sitting on the sidelines, according to a new study by luxury specialists L2 Think Tank.

“Amazon is starting to making a play for this industry,” says Mabel McLean, research lead on the report. “You are seeing them step up their efforts around the prestige sector in general.”

To deliver better imagery for its fashion offerings and boost its high-end product pages, Amazon set up a 40,000–square-foot photography and video studio in Brooklyn, N.Y.

“You are seeing more sophisticated imagery on the product pages,” McLean says. “If you look at watch brands that have chosen to sell on Amazon, in many cases the imagery is better than what is offered through the traditional brand sites.”

The sector’s high margins make it an attractive market for Amazon, which L2 calls e-tail’s “great white shark.” And despite its cut-price image, a survey of luxury shoppers found most would be willing to purchase high-end items from the site.

“They already have the demographic,” McLean says. “It’s more of a question of getting brands on board so they can sell the inventory themselves.” 

Which remains the biggest stumbling block: L2 estimates that only 8 percent of jewelry and watch brands sell on the platform, even though it accounts for one out of four online purchases.

“A lot of prestige brands don’t want to work with Amazon, just because they are concerned with brand equity,” she says. “I think if you want to work with Amazon, you already are at this point.”

Among the ones that do sell on the site: Citizen watches and Alex and Ani. 

But most big luxury companies, like LVMH, have strict policies against selling on Amazon. And some well-known names can’t be listed, even by third-party sellers.

“If you try to list a piece of Tiffany jewelry, you can list only very specific pieces,” McLean says. “This is true for any number of brands.” 

This has kept the listing for certain prestige names at a minimum, she says: Piaget has more than 400 listings on eBay, but only 11 on Amazon.

 

JCK News Director