Amazon Doesn't Dominate Private-Label Sales (Yet)

Batteries and tools are big sellers, but fashion is a work in progress

If it seems like Amazon dominates most online retail categories, that’s because it does.

According to a new Q1 2018 study by marketing analytics platform Jumpshot, Amazon has more than 80% market share across categories on average. It has higher shares for commodity products like batteries (97%), tools (93%) and cleaning supplies (88%), for which many consumers care less about brand than price. 

That said, Amazon doesn’t take the lion’s share of private-label conversions—at least for the time being. Amazon's biggest private-label category, ranked by conversions, is electronics (45%), making up nearly half of its total. Home (16%), office (14%) and pets (5%) take smaller pieces of the pie. When looking at Amazon's private labels compared with Macy's, Target and Walmart, Amazon takes a 61% share, vs. 39% for those other three retailers combined. However, when you remove electronics, Amazon's share shrinks to 26%.

There is no official record or count of Amazon's private labels, but in March 2018, L2 reported that Amazon had 80 private labels, 86% of which were in the apparel, shoes and jewelry category. Health and household (5%) and home and kitchen (4%) were a distant second and third. This signals Amazon's continued intent to become a go-to source for online fashion, yet at least in Q1 2018, the sales weren't there yet.

According to a February 2018 Coresight Research assessment of Amazon Fashion, products from Amazon's private apparel labels only made up 0.1% of the clothing sold on the site. This reflects the long tail of brands on Amazon—the 30 that are most listed only account for 30% of the total—and also shows that there is room for private-label growth on the site. The most listed private label was Lark & Ro, making up more than half (54%) of Amazon's private-label listings. Women's dresses and blazers/suiting were the top two items listed under the Lark & Ro umbrella.  

The top apparel and footwear brands bought in the past year, though, were Nike (16.8%), Under Armour (13.8%) and Hanes (12.9%), according to a separate survey by Coresight Research, conducted in January 2018. Athletic gear, underwear, socks and t-shirts were more commonly bought than items like dresses and work clothing, though clearly Amazon is making a greater fashion push, given that there are more than six times the number of Lark & Ro items listed than Amazon Essentials, which include staples like activewear, sleepwear and jackets.

Roughly 11% of US internet users had bought private-label apparel on Amazon, and 18.8% were interested in trying it. Those ages 18 to 29 had greater interest in trying these labels (25.2%), which would also bode well for growth despite the fact Amazon is still viewed as an online source of staples, not style. 

On Monday, SunTrust released an analyst note that estimated Amazon's private labels would bring in $7.5 billion in revenues this year, soaring to $25 billion by 2022. "Private label is one of the highly under appreciated trends within Amazon, in our view, which over time should give the company a strong 'unfair' competitive advantage. 'Unfair' because it'll be very difficult to dislodge the company once it attains it; fair because it's earned, not bestowed," wrote SunTrust analyst Youssef Squali.