- Amazon launched a personal styling service called Personal Shopper in July to compete with popular subscription services like Stitch Fix.
- Personal Shopper is an extension of Amazon’s existing Prime Wardrobe feature, a “try before you buy” program for Prime users to ship prospective clothing items to their home, keep what they want, and send back the rest.
- I tried the styling service and was fairly unimpressed. The overall presentation was lacklustre, shipping was slow, and the platform itself – which can only be accessed on mobile – was glitchy.
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Amazon may be vying to be my personal stylist, but I don’t think I want it to be.
The tech juggernaut launched Personal Shopper in July as an extension of its existing Prime Wardrobe “try before you buy” program that allows users to order items online, try them on at home, and send back whatever they don’t want. The styling service is currently available to Prime members and costs $US4.99 a month for one customised, curated shipment of up to eight items.
The new service is an effort by Amazon to capitalise on the success of algorithmic styling companies like Stitch Fix, the e-commerce site that filed its initial public offering in 2017 at a valuation of $US1.6 billion. Along with companies like Trunk Club that were early entrants to the subscription market, Stitch Fix helped pave the way for the rise of similar apparel services and inspired new categories like lingerie and jewellery.
I tried Personal Shopper and experienced several frustrations and glitches along the way that ultimately made it difficult for me enjoy the service – even though I did manage to score two new skirts and a blouse in the process.
Here’s what it was like using the new Amazon service and why I don’t plan on using it again in the future:
In order to join Personal Shopper, you have to create a style profile on the Amazon app and pay the $US4.99 fee.
My first major grievance about Personal Shopper was you can only access the service via the Amazon app, and you can’t use it on desktop.
Once I signed up, I was asked a series of questions regarding personal style, budget, and body type. This took around 10-15 minutes.
Amazon then takes a couple days to process this information, pairing it with previous purchases and browsing data to determine recommended products.
The first series of questions focused on my personal style. For each style of clothing, which included “classic” and “boho,” I was asked to rank how frequently I wear them.
The survey also included a few more specific questions on particular types of clothing, like these bolder options.
I would maybe do a ruffle, even though this top is giving me Seinfeld puffy shirt vibes. However, I don’t think I can pull off an animal print skirt, despite The Cut deeming it the skirt of the summer this year.
The questions became increasingly nuanced. For various types of clothing, I answered questions about preferences regarding fit and length.
Next, I was asked to select my body type and answer questions regarding specific areas that I prefer to either highlight or conceal.
Personal Shopper has access to Amazon’s thousands of brands across price points, in sizes 0–24 and XS–XXL/3X. It also includes women’s shoes in sizes 5-12.
In order to serve up items that fit my budget, the platform asked me several questions related to brands I typically purchase and how much I spend on average for each garment.
In the last step of the process, I was able to select colours and patterns that Personal Shopper should avoid in compiling my suggestions.
After all my information was submitted, I was told to wait an indeterminate amount of days for my personalised picks.
How many days is a few days, though?
A few days ended up being around 48 hours. Personal Shopper sent me an email directing me to the app to view my recommendations.
The selection itself was a mixed bag. The algorithm gets smarter the more questions you answer and the more times you use the service, ultimately leading to better selections over time.
I ultimately selected five items: the Adrianna Papell skirt and The Fifth Label dress pictured here, as well as a J.Crew heritage skirt, Jack by BB Dakota blouse and JOA denim jumper.
Another gripe: Though you can select up to eight items, if the collective total of your items goes over $US300, you have to pay for shipping. So in this case, I stuck to five.
For whatever reason, you can’t use debit cards for Personal Shopper, which feels unnecessarily limiting when you’re able to on the rest of the site.
My order took eight days to arrive, which felt particularly slow given Amazon’s dedication to quick shipping.
It also arrived in a beat-up plastic bag that looked like it had SEEN some things. Now it’s time to put seven days up on the clock.
For reference, this is what I was anticipating my order would look like. A classic case of expectations vs. reality!
In lieu of receiving an actual box for returns, I was supposed to save this bag, but as I tried to open it, it ripped down the middle.
At least I didn’t rip the return label and frequently asked questions booklet.
Once I finally got the bag open, I found even more bags. Each item was haphazardly shoved into its own individual plastic bag, which I was instructed to save for returns.
When I finally extracted the items, they were all super wrinkled.
Plastic bags: Bad for the environment, good for my cat, who is weirdly obsessed with sleeping atop any and all variety of bag.
Ziploc bags, grocery bags, tote bags, you name it. If she comes across it, she will lay on it.
Once I managed to pry my cat away and try everything on, I decided to keep the J.Crew and Adrianna Papell skirts, as well as the Jack by BB Dakota top.
I decided against both dresses since the fit was off.
Farewell for now, cute but ill-fitting dresses.
With two days remaining in my trial before I get charged for everything, it’s time to sort through this mangled plastic mess and find the corresponding bags for each item …
… oh, and track down my own box because of the bag mishap.
Despite adding three new pieces to my wardrobe, ultimately I decided Amazon Personal Shopper was more trouble than it was worth.
The overall presentation, user experience, and slow shipping left much to be desired.
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