Amazon Echo Look

Michael Tchong

One of the biggest challenges innovation consultants and speakers face is the “tyranny of the installed base” — as legendary founder of Ziff-Davis, Bill Ziff, liked to put it. Retailers eagerly listen to innovation presentations or participate in interactive workshops, but once again Amazon rewrote the rules of retail innovation with the launch of Echo Look.

The tyranny of the installed base refers to the difficulty of getting a large mass of users to change their platform of choice. In this particular instance, it’s the 3,793,621 retail establishments and their millions of executive managers, who are proving inert.

Amazon Echo Look ($200) is essentially an Echo speaker with a video camera, but it features social media integration and the ability to make hands-free selfies look better by adding a blurred background “bokeh” effect.

But the key feature of Echo Look is its fashion feedback service, called Style Check, which, Amazon claims, will realy on machine learning to rate fashion choices and help users choose between outfit combinations. That will also prepare the device and its users for shopping recommendations. 😉

The first question one must ask, where is Zara? Where is H&M? These “fast fashion” trendsetters should be innovating like Amazon to prevent what’s happening to these stores to happen to them:

• Abercrombie & Fitch – 60 stores
• American Apparel – 110 stores
• BCBG – 120 stores
• Bebe – 175 stores
• CVS – 70 stores
• Family Christian – 240 stores
• GameStop – 150 stores
• Gander Mountain – 32 stores
• HH Gregg – 88 stores
• JC Penney – 138 stores
• Macy’s – 68 stores
• Sears and K Mart – 150 stores
• Guess – 60 stores
• Payless ShoeSource – 400 stores
• Radio Shack – 550 stores
• Staples – 70 stores
• The Limited – 250 stores

Then you wonder about behemoths like Wal-Mart, or plateauing fashion icons like GAP, Lucky and others, who are also being left behind in Amazon’s dust.

Echo Look is the perfect “buzz appliance.” Instagram teams with style influentials who will instantly glom on to Echo Look and promote it. The Echo Look launch also explains why Amazon is rumored to be working on its own influencer program. Even if Instagrammers decide that Echo Look is a silly device with no real-world applications, their put-downs will attract more publicity for the cyber retailer.

Amazon Look points to the future of fashion shopping. It even deals a creative blow to Google Home, which is threatening to overtake Echo’s position as the ultimate voice assistant. In a world rife with technology innovation, the spoils go to the victor who can iterate innovation rapidly and orthogonally.