Posts Tagged 'H&M'

Is H&M missing the omnichannel bandwagon?

H&M has been famously late to the table developing its own e-commerce site from which it can sell merchandise. There continues to be a lot of debate (including on RetailWire) about whether the company is missing the boat, or smart to focus on physical store expansion. Here’s a recent comment:

H&M is competing globally against the likes of Zara and Uniqlo. It’s understandable that the company’s focus is on brick and mortar expansion, and especially getting the content right in each country where it operates.

Still, given the overall maturing of brick and mortar retail (at least in the U.S.), it looks like a good time for H&M to redouble its move toward a true omnichannel strategy.


Pop-up stores: Here to stay?

A brief comment (from a recent RetailWire discussion) follows, on the subject of pop-up stores. What started as a risk-averse strategy to use empty space during the recession is now part of the location-strategy and branding landscape:

The pop-up store may have started as a response to vacant space, but it has evolved into a legitimate strategy. It allows brands to test new design concepts and merchandising strategies without the commitment of a long-term lease — and it provides a laboratory of results that can be rolled out to other stores. And, as the article points out, it’s a great way to create “buzz,” along the same lines as the short-duration designer goods inside Target, H&M and Kohl’s recently.

A&F: Larger sizes not welcome

There has been recent publicity about statements made by Abercrombie’s CEO (Michael Jeffries) dating back to 2006, regarding the size range of clothing in his stores aimed at the “young and thin.” I’m among several RetailWire panelists who weighed in on the topic:

A&F has yet to recover from its pre-recession heights, and it’s notable that the quotation attributed to Mr. Jeffries dates from Abercrombie’s glory days in 2006. The company made a series of missteps, from its poor value positioning during the recession, to more recent product development missteps. Mr. Jeffries’s insistence that the larger teen customer is not for him may be consistent with A&F’s brand position, but it is not a good long-term business strategy. There are plenty of fast fashion retailers who have grown in the past five years (Forever 21, Zara, H&M to name a few) while Abercrombie’s cool image has been tarnished.

Is the “youth market” losing its luster for retailers?

Retailers’ fascination with “youth” (sometimes ignoring the truth of an aging demographic) is a double-edged sword. My recent comment on RetailWire points out that some stores are broadening their appeal better than others:

Retailers’ focus on the young customer will never wane completely, but smart apparel companies are trying to broaden their appeal. (The “fast fashion” retailers like H&M, Zara and Uniqlo are probably doing a better job than their U.S.-based counterparts like Aeropostale and Abercrombie.) There will still be a place for junior trend retail: After all, “Millenials” will be the parents of teenagers someday too.

Brand awareness for Uniqlo: Is a web presence enough?

From a recent RetailWire discussion: The issue is whether Uniqlo (the Japanese “fast fashion” retailer) can establish a beachhead in the U.S. through its website rather than a more aggressive bricks-and-mortar expansion. Here’s my opinion, with some added comments below:

Zara, H & M and even Ikea are great examples of foreign retailers (not necessarily apparel stores) who leveraged both e-commerce and bricks-and-mortar growth to build awareness and a strong U.S. presence. There is some natural synergy between channels that Uniqlo would be smart to learn from. Simply building a web business without opening some tangible “flagship” stores in key markets probably isn’t enough by itself to drive the brand.

Just to add a note: I visited the Uniqlo store on 34th Street in Manhattan last week (one of three New York locations) and the store is stunning. Great presentation, depth of fashion and basic inventory at compelling price points. I don’t think a web presence alone can communicate what’s special about this store, although operating in a smaller footprint (as H&M has learned to do) will be a challenge.

Target uses “pop-up marketing” to launch Zac Posen

I commented recently on RetailWire about Target’s plan to launch the Zac Posen collection via a 24-hour “pop-up” location in New York. Not a new strategy for Target, but an effective one:

For anyone following Target for the past few years, the Zac Posen launch isn’t the first of its kind and probably won’t be the last. Target took a page from H&M by strengthening its “fast fashion” effort with quick in-and-out “collections” like this one. (And Target has been associated with designer “names” throughout the store for a long time, going back at least to Michael Graves.) The pop-up store concept is a great way for Target to generate PR buzz for the Zac Posen goods, in a fairly cost-effective way considering the scale of the launch.

Zara on the Web: Will it succeed?

Because of Zara’s “fast fashion” approach to the apparel business, managing inventories online in a nimble fashion will be a key to the website. Forecasting demand — and, more importantly, running out of product “just in time” instead of too early or too late — will go a long way toward a profitable business model for Zara. But if H&M can figure this out, so should Zara, especially with its more limited footprint in big markets like the U.S. A viable website gives Zara a lot of cross-marketing opportunity as it works toward higher brand recognition in new markets.