Amazon Taps Brands For Online and In-Person Holiday Pop-Ups

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Are consumers ready to shop bespoke Amazon brick and mortars? The e-commerce juggernaut has sent big box retailers like Walmart, Best Buy and Target scurrying to devise competitive strategies. But now the boutiques on high streets from London to Los Angeles have reason to worry as Amazon prepares for the holidays with Amazon Fashion pop-up shops.

Amazon x Calvin Klein #mycalvins

Amazon is dipping its toe into holiday pop-up shopping by partnering with a number of brands. First, there is the Calvin Klein x Amazon Fashion retail experience. Through the end of the year, Calvin Klein x Amazon Fashion pop-up shops are attracting fans in New York City and Los Angeles—Santa Monica, to be precise, where Superwoman herself (YouTuber Lilly Singh) hosted a pop-up on Sunday in a paid partnership with Calvin Klein.

The Calvin x Amazon pop-ups also offer experiences such as a customizable monogram station, phone-charging, selfie-worthy fitting rooms with Alexa “to talk you through the collection” and app-based check-out.

Amazon is complimenting the partnership with an online brand store at Amazon.com/mycalvins. That online store will also be where Calvin Klein will sell exclusive, Amazon-only products in a revival of the #MyCalvins campaign, this time starring Solange Knowles and her musical family.


Amazon x (RED) SHOPATHON

Also in time for Black Friday and then World AIDS Day on December 1st, Amazon is hosting a co-branded online store with (RED) — #SHOPATHON, which features designer goods with curated collections by celebrities such as Neil Patrick Harris and DJ Khaled.

Amazon x (RED) SHOPATHON DJ Khaled

Through the end of December, shoppers can choose from more than 150 (RED) products including fashion, cosmetics, kitchen goods, kids items, tech and more at Amazon.com/RED or via the Amazon App. On December 1st, World AIDS Day, Amazon will highlight (RED), the Global Fund and (RED) products to bring awareness to the fight, and throughout the campaign special video content from (RED) celebrity supporters will encourage people to shop (RED) and save lives this holiday season.

As (RED) notes in a press release, “Every (RED) purchase made by shoppers this holiday will have real impact. The life-saving ARV pills, when taken daily, save not only the life of mothers living with HIV; they also prevent the virus being passed to their unborn babies. As well as providing medication, (RED) money to the Global Fund also supports prevention, testing, counseling and care services programs – all key pillars of the fight to end a disease which is preventable and treatable; a disease which needlessly sees an adolescent become infected every two minutes.”

As the Official Payment Provider of (SHOPATHON)RED, long-standing (RED) partner Bank of America is making every dollar spent go even further. For every dollar spent on Amazon.com/RED from November 20 until December 31, Bank of America will donate 30 cents—the daily cost of life-saving HIV/AIDS medication in sub-Saharan Africa—up to $1.5 million.

Among the selection of tech products is the brand new (RED) Amazon Echo. Amazon is donating $10 from the sale of each (RED) Echo to the Global Fund.


Amazon is also leveraging its recent acquisition of Whole Foods Market. In addition to offering Amazon Prime members savings on Thanksgiving turkeys at Whole Foods, Amazon is opening holiday pop-up shops inside select Whole Foods locations. The pop-ups will feature Amazon tech like Fire tablets and Amazon Echo smart devices. The Whole Foods pop-ups expand on the Amazon Pop-Up program currently operated in select malls and Kohl’s locations across the U.S. (Amazon has a list of pop-up locations on its site.)

“Putting their devices in Whole Foods is a minimal effort for them and the potential upside is huge,” Kirthi Kalyanam, director of the Retail Management Institute at Santa Clara University’s Leavey School of Business, told Bloomberg. “I’m just not sure it’s going to work. People don’t go to Whole Foods thinking about devices.”


Amazon UK House of Black Friday 2017 London

Away from home, Amazon is making a strong push in the UK for Black Friday. Its “Home of Black Friday” pop-up opens today, and according to Amazon’s press release, “The event is free and open to the public from 12:30pm to 7:30pm from Tuesday 21st to Friday 24th November. Customers will be invited to explore the best of Amazon’s Black Friday Sale and of Amazon Prime and join in the fun with games, creative workshops, expert gift advice, hundreds of prize giveaways, product demonstrations and special celebrity guest appearances.”

The Black Friday tradition in the UK is not yet a decade old but it is already influencing holiday shopping in the nation. Black Friday spending in the UK is expected to be up 4% to over $13 billion this year.

As Amazon UK Country Manager Doug Gurr commented in a press release: “We introduced Black Friday in the UK back in 2010 because we believed that customers would be excited by the prospect of getting incredible deals on great gifts just a handful of weeks before Christmas. The customer response in that first year confirmed that belief. Fast forward seven years and Black Friday is one of the biggest days in the shopping calendar not only here in the UK but also now in many countries around the world.”

To compliment its online sales presence there, Amazon UK’s “Home of Black Friday” pop up experience is wooing holiday shoppers to its chic 13 Soho Square central London address. The 10-day shop will feature some of the best UK Black Friday deals.

Amazon has been rolling out ads in its biggest Black Friday campaign to date with animated singing boxes:

Amazon’s “Home of Black Friday” will not the first e-commerce pop up for London. Last year, eBay opened a two-day UK pop-up experience. The “emotionally powered” concept aimed to create a less stressful holiday shopping experience.


While not a pop-up, Amazon is also partnering with Acura this holiday season. Amazon Media Group and Amazon Launchpad are working with the automaker to release “a new long format documentary that explores the journey and spirit that drives entrepreneurs and the process of taking a product from concept to market.”

The documentary highlights three Amazon Launchpad entrepreneurs who turn ideas into real products and what they learn along the way from innovation experts. The project exists on a special Amazon page at Amazon.com/acura.


In a way, Amazon’s holiday brand partnerships make it look a lot like Alibaba’s Tmall.com. That shopping platform bends over backwards to land and celebrated online branded flagship stores. Amazon.com/mycalvins, Amazon.com/red and Amazon.com/acura would not seem out of place on Tmall, and it would seem Amazon’s moves in the field will see the retail platform start to look more like its China-based rival.

Speaking of Alibaba, Amazon isn’t the only e-tail behemoth looking to stretch its dotcom dominance into IRL retail. Across the Pacific, Alibaba just inked a $3 billion deal to buy into China’s top hypermart brand Sun Art. The move is part of Alibaba’s strategy to establish itself in offline retail. In the last two years, Alibaba has invested just shy of $10 billion in brick and mortar businesses.

Meanwhile, Amazon owns no patent on the holiday pop-up and other brands are rushing to the pop-ular new promotion. Google is hosting #madebyGoogle pop-ups in New York and LA (where Solange also popped up at the opening), while Chanel and Tiffany & Co. are launching holiday pop-ups in New York and Paris.

In addition to the Amazon activation, London is choc-a-bloc with pop-ups this holiday season. And the Big Apple is hosting so many seasonal pop-ups that fashion blog Racked made a 20-point map.

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