Back in 2010 when we wondered who would get their act together first, we couldn't imagine it would be nearly three years before the big three of "fast fashion" all offered e-commerce in the U.S., but here we are. Zara went first in September 2011, Uniqlo followed in October 2012, and now H&M is ready to take your online orders. The question now is: was anyone clamouring for this? As the Wall Street Journal observes,
When H&M first signaled its online shopping intentions in January 2011 with a message on Twitter, it sparked a wave of interest among fashion fans and bloggers. Data provided by Google Trends suggests buzz around being able to buy H&M online peaked in 2011 and has slipped significantly in the 30 months since, during which there were two aborted launches.With 30% U.S. sales growth in 2012 it's not exactly like H&M will be made or broken on this long-steeped enterprise, but they face some significant challenges when viewed alongside their two primary competitors. if Zara is viewed as cheap, trend-conscious clothes shipped free and Uniqlo as a source for solidly made basics, H&M is best summarized as "disposably cheap, period". Their prices will still generally be the lowest of the field, but lacking Zara's style or Uniqlo's quality the $6 shipping fee seems a hefty premium on a $10 polo or $13 shorts. Their best hope for growth might be not just U.S. consumers without a nearby H&M, but those without a local Old Navy or Zara either.