Should Rent the Runway sell through Amazon? – RetailWire

Rent the Runway reached an agreement to sell its “Pre-Loved” luxury merchandise on, marking another major partnership for Rent the Runway and a big step into the resale market for Amazon.
Available on Amazon at steep discounts will be secondhand items from more than 35 brands, including Tory Sport, rag & bone and Kate Spade.
Rent the Runway, which lets customers rent designer apparel and accessories à la carte or through regular subscriptions, has recovered sales as weddings and social occasions rebound with the lifting of pandemic restrictions, but access to Amazon’s wide customer base is expected to help support a path to profitability.
Rent the Runway already has partnerships with thredUp and Saks Off Fifth.
“Collaborating with Amazon Fashion brings Rent the Runway incredible brand awareness,” said Jenn Hyman, co-founder and CEO, in a statement. “We believe strategic relationships like this can ignite a new engine of growth for our business.”
According to eMarketer, fashion online resale marketplace sales in the U.S. will reach $14.14 billion this year, up 15.3 percent year-over-year, with faster growth expected in the next three years. The growth is expected to be led by “Gen Z consumers’ commitment to sustainable consumption, along with their love of thrifting and throwback fashion trends.”
Lululemon, Shein, Urban Outfitters, Zara, Torrid and other chains have recently launched resale initiatives.
Amazon sells pre-owned luxury handbags through its Shopbop section, but Rent the Runway marks the first time a major resale platform has set up an Amazon storefront. The move supports its lengthy efforts to add more luxury offerings — albeit pre-owned — to the platform.
Last year, Victoria’s Secret and Gap became the first major vertically-operating chains to set up Amazon storefronts. Most brands that sell in traditional department stores have dedicated storefronts on Amazon, including Polo Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, Kate Spade, Levi’s, Adidas and The North Face, but many luxury labels, such as Gucci, Burberry and Coach, do not sell directly on the platform.
“At Amazon Fashion, we continually expand our assortment through strategic relationships with brands to inspire and delight our customers,” said Muge Erdirik Dogan, president of Amazon Fashion. “Rent the Runway’s collection continues to grow our offering in pre-loved and designer fashion.”
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Does Rent The Runway or Amazon score a bigger win with their resale collaboration? How would you rate the benefits and drawbacks for each company?
9 Comments on “Should Rent the Runway sell through Amazon?”
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A storefront reaches thousands. Online reaches millions. This partnership is a win for all parties, especially consumers.
Why not? Amazon will introduce Rent the Runway to a larger audience of consumers, something the resale platform needs. The way it’s going, sooner or later every retailer will have some connection to Amazon.
Resale is a big business. The Amazon collaboration elevates the profile and puts it in front of eyes that are maybe not familiar with the resale business. Good for them for seeking a partner to help grow the business.
Both companies win big and this collaboration sets Amazon up for long-term success.
Rent the Runway is smart to go where consumers already are to increase brand reach as resale booms. Even in an economic downturn, many consumers still seek quality and prestige at a reasonable price.
Making affordable luxuries accessible to the masses will drive Amazon sales as shoppers still crave glamor. Gen Z and Millennial shoppers are going out more and want to look spectacular; this move can maximize their lifetime customer value. Increasing the size of the luxury market can help Amazon attract more shoppers to Luxury Stores.
Why not? Not only is this an opportunity for Rent the Runway, but because of Amazon’s reach, it may kick the acceptance of second-hand to the next level. Nobody provides exposure like Amazon, whether products or new ideas for shoppers.
Opening a channel on Poshmark seems to make more sense as they have 80 million people looking for used apparel and product. Vendors are authorizing their products to be available on Rent the Runway, not Amazon. If brands are unable to control their distribution, it could spur more brands continuing to pull out of Rent the Runway all together.
This is the same discussion we’ve had before around other Amazon “partnerships.” Either it sounds great and never gets off the ground and dies a quiet death, does okay and neither party gains much, or Amazon uses Rent The Runway to learn the market and then finds its own entre squeezing out its “partner.”
Not sure which way it will go, but I do know who carries the risk.
Ken, I agree and in this case, I expect the outcome of this will be a gateway for Amazon to adapt and learn by directly entering the market.
Renting, Resale and Vintage as a category has often been a niche, or in small and quirky locations as part of the hunt and discovery. Luxury, gently used and the interesting finds are a dream for the customers who invest the time to shop. Creating a storefront on Amazon would add a jolt of electricity and big stage to this business. A winner in the making if the partners can make it work profitably with Amazon.

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