The Man in the High Castle Wants to Build You the Perfect Shoe


Amazon is piloting products with the same formula it uses to greenlight TV series. The launch of The Fix, their private label fashion brand, is a sign that it’s time to act for any brand struggling to rethink their go-to market strategy.

Amazon and Netflix disrupted the Hollywood production model by creating their own original content. Good content, too —even Oscar winning content. Still, their biggest advantage is a fast, data-supported testing and distribution strategy. By promoting pilot episodes of their new shows, Amazon can get rapid feedback on what worked, how long people were willing to watch, and whether or not a show idea is worth developing into an entire series. It’s a formula they can use to give broad creative guidelines to their writers and producers, and one that is easily adjustable. The success of The Man in the High Castle, for example, wasn’t a stroke of good luck — when the pilot episode was streamed more times than any other show in Amazon’s catalog, they knew they’d made a winner and committed themselves to making a full season.

It doesn’t end at series and movies. Amazon is “screen testing” shoes and handbags with The Fix, its new fashion label, and other emerging apparel brands.

The Fix is releasing new shoes and handbags every month, inspired by the biggest designers and consumer trends, to Prime members only. These are essentially pilot episodes. By targeting a pool of users who can give feedback on how each color, cut, fabric, and fit is received, they can get an early indication of how well a product performs. The data comes in quickly and goes all the way back to customer actions — repeat purchases, returns, reviews, and sales history. All of those key indicators used in making movies and TV series — actors, themes — can be used to make a series of products specifically for their most valued consumer —- the Prime shopper.

In an interview with Refinery29, Amazon’s Fashion Director, Kate Dimmock, said that the idea behind The Fix was “a shoe and handbag collection at this price point that delivers trends in such a huge way and quality… It’s not necessarily about an age or an economic bracket. It’s like, ‘Do you like to have fun? Do you love shoes and bags?’ It’s guilt-free shopping.”

This feedback loop and focused import schedule is rapidly improved with more users, guilt-free purchases, and data, giving Amazon a clear idea of what lines will be successful in the short and long term – just like they did with “The Man In The High Castle.”

Why brands should be paying attention:

Amazon has been testing products with private label brands in multiple categories, finding niches and opportunities all the time. While products listed on The Fix are imported, Amazon was awarded a textile patent for “a system of on demand apparel manufacturing [that] includes a textile printer, textile cutter, and a computing device.” It’s faster ‘fast fashion’. This might be years away from implementation, but in the meantime, they’re getting to know customers well.

Shoe sales are up and Amazon is both driving this and capitalizing on it. Recent research by One Click Retail showed a 5% year over year growth rate for shoe sales in the US, while Amazon alone reported a 35% increase in shoe sales.

Shoes, fashion, and every other category with historically slow supply chains are ripe for disruption. Amazon has proven it can do this with television shows in arguably the most creative and influential era of television history.

Having loyal customers who love your brand and an agile, digital strategy (that considers Amazon) is the best defense and offense for any new developments, known and unknown. If you’re not sure how to get real-time customer data on Amazon to drive new products, you’d better find someone fast.

Originally published by Brian Gonsalves on LinkedIn.