The future may hold far fewer and radically redesigned stores, analysts say.
The apparel chain retailer had planned to launch e-commerce in early 2012.
Hennes & Mauritz AB, better known as apparel retail chain H&M, has finally made its goods available online to U.S. shoppers. The Swedish retailer, which operates nearly 300 stores in the United States, launched an e-commerce-enabled HM.com/us today. The U.S. e-commerce site launch was originally slated to happen in early 2012, and was twice pushed back to fall 2012 and then this summer. The retailer said last year that it needed more time.
In the meantime some of H&M’s competitors in the fast-fashion apparel market have developed their own U.S. e-commerce efforts. Spain’s Inditex Group’s Zara apparel retail chain launched e-commerce at Zara.com in late 2011 and in 2012 launched ZaraHome.com for home décor. Japanese apparel chain Uniqlo launched e-commerce in the United States last October, partnering it with an aggressive store expansion plan. Fast Retailing Co. Ltd., Uniqlo’s parent company, has said it wants to generate $10 billion in North American sales by 2020.Fast-fashion retailers seek to translate the latest fashion runway styles and get them into stores quickly by designing and manufacturing their own goods.
H&M already sells online in eight European countries: Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom. The sales it generates online ranks it No. 83 in Internet Retailer’s 2013 Europe 500. Inditex Group is No. 64 in the Europe 500. Uniqlo is No. 54 in Internet Retailer’s 2013 Asia 500.
H&M says its U.S. e-commerce site will sell additional sizes than what is available in stores and online-only items. It also includes an H&M Home line of home goods not available in most stores.
“We are thrilled to launch online shopping in the U.S.,” says Daniel Kulle, U.S. president for H&M. “This significant milestone fully rounds out H&M’s multichannel offering.”
The site offers flat-rate shipping at $5.95. Products ordered online cannot be picked up or returned in H&M stores. H&M is collecting sales tax in 30 states and the District of Columbia, according to details listed on its site.
H&M will support the e-commerce launch with a temporary, pop-up store in Manhattan. It will feature select clothing collections and the ability for consumers to purchase using iPads, the retailer says.