Is H&M’s brick before click strategy working?
H&M Group has never been in any rush to pursue online sales, particularly in the U.S. Back in 2012, when launching e-commerce sites in other countries, the fast fashion retailer announced its U.S. site would not go live until the summer of 2013. At the time, analysts expressed disappointment with H&M’s slow pace, suggesting it would give rivals such as Zara a competitive advantage.
While some may still feel H&M is being too deliberate when it comes to its online business (it just launched its site in France), the company’s overall numbers are headed upward. Sales at the company increased 12 percent during its first quarter (Dec. – Feb.) over the same period a year earlier. Sales in February were up 11 percent, despite harsh weather in the U.S. and other markets where H&M does business.
The retailer has achieved its sales gains, largely, because of an aggressive approach to opening stores. Over the past year, H&M opened 374 new locations (a 13 percent increase) in markets around the world, and plans to open a similar number this year. The company, which currently operates in 53 markets around the globe, announced last month that it would open its first stores in Australia, India and the Philippines later this year.
According to Bloomberg Businessweek reports, H&M is looking to new lines to broaden its appeal. The company launched a new line of workout clothing, H&M Sport, in January to compete with Gap, Lululemon, Uniqlo and others in the space.
- Sales development in February and first quarter 2014 – H&M Group
- H&M’s New Store Blitz Moves Faster Than Its Digital Expansion – Bloomberg Businessweek
- H&M to Open First Store in India – Women’s Wear Daily (sub. required)
- H&M Turns to Sportswear to Make Zara Sweat – Bloomberg Businessweek
- Will H&M be an instant success online? – RetailWire
- H&M says omni-channel can wait in U.S. – RetailWire
Do you think H&M should be more aggressive on the e-commerce front than it is now? What do you see as the keys for the chain’s success in the U.S. and in other markets going forward?