Posted by: Rob Hof on January 3, 2007
For the first time, Amazon.com has created a retail Web site that isn’t branded Amazon. Endless.com, just out in beta, sells shoes and handbags, a hot area that Gap recently jumped into with PiperLime and that’s populated by fast-growing successes such as Zappos. Not only can you not tell it’s an Amazon site until you check out (and are given the option to log in with your Amazon username and password), but it has features not seen on Amazon, such as free overnight shipping, more useful search and browsing methods, and zoom-in capability on products.
Amazon says only that it saw an opportunity with shoes and handbags to target buyers who are very particular about how they buy these products: They want them fast, and they want to be able to browse them in a more interactive but fast way.
But I wonder if Amazon realized it may be bumping up against the limits of its brand. It bought Shopbop not long ago to sell more fashion-forward styles that shoppers might not think of Amazon selling. And off the retail path, it has recently created new sites such as NowNow and Askville, in addition to services like A9, Alexa, and IMDB that it acquired or created in recent years.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see more such brands coming out of Amazon. In a world in which people find things to view and buy through search engines that send them all over the Web, it may be a better bet to create a bunch of brands than hope everyone will keep coming to one site for everything.