Starting September 2, fast fashion retailer Zara will finally offer e-commerce in select countries. Unfortunately, the initiative doesn’t include the majority of Fashionista readers. France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom will be the first to be able to access the service, which will work on computers, smartphones and yes, the iPad. There’s no talk as of yet about bring Zara online in the US.
Zara’s–and H&M’s–lack of internet presence, particularly in the US, shocks us. (H&M has limited e-commerce, but it isn’t offered over here.) The excuse? Well, in the beginning, it had to do with sourcing and logistics. The clothes offered up by these retailers are presumably manufactured and sold within weeks, which they claimed meant there wasn’t enough time to sell them online.
It’s not a completely bullshit response. Brian Sozzi, a retail analyst, says it really is hard for such a massive apparel company to sell product via the Web.
“I think the core thing with the fast fashion guys has been their inability to localize product by specific region. The way I think about H&M, Zara, Forever 21 is that they make a broad bet on fashion, allowing them to receive good costs,” he says. What’s more, “these companies have been very focused on growing square footage, devoting capital to selling the store experience instead of the Web.”
But today, everyone from Topshop to Mango to Stella McCartney offers e-commerce, which means Zara must compete. Hopefully, unlike Uniqlo and H&M, the Spanish store will accommodate its US customers sooner than later.
The store’s parent company, Inditex, announced the news after a particularly successful financial run: Sales increased by 14% to 2.66 billion euros (about $3.2 billion) in the first quarter of 2010 from the first quarter of 2009.