H&M Forays into E-Commerce in U.S.

After many years of patient consumer waiting, H&M is finally launching an e-commerce website to serve the United States. The Swedish chain’s site, announced on Twitter and Facebook, went live today, reported WWD.

The brand is coming on strong with a four-channel strategy: an updated mobile app, e-commerce, physical stores in 32 states and catalogue distribution, a first in the United States that will commence this fall. The four-pronged approach will reach 300 million American consumers.

“We have brand awareness, but sometimes we don’t have distribution. We can now educate our customers as to what H&M is all about,” Daniel Kulle, U.S. president of H&M, said to WWD.

The new website is celebrating its launch with a bevy of special promotions, such as slim fit pants for $10, straight-cut cardigan blazers for $10, long-sleeve burnout shirts for $4.95, slim fit tankdresses for $5 and lace tank tops for $5, plus deals for men and children.

H&M’s e-commerce venue boasts a greater variety of colors and sizes than its brick-and-mortar counterparts.

Kulle maintained the retailer did not mean to “deliberately neglect” the United States in its e-commerce strategy.

“We expanded in Europe and opened in Austria last year. We’re taking countries on every year, one by one. We’re a global company and growing on all three continents. In the past three years we have opened approximately 800 stores globally and 80 of those stores were opened in the U.S. alone. We have e-commerce in nine markets and the group continues to work on the global rollout of H&M’s online store with the aim of adding more new online countries during 2014. We’re busy doing things around the world,” he said.

Starting Aug. 22, the site’s visitors can check out the Paris Show collection, H&M’s first-ever runway line, before it is released in stores on Sept. 5. Paired with this launch, the retailer will also create a pop-up shop in Manhattan.

“We want to give customers access to buy earlier,” Kulle said. “The U.S. will have the global exclusive.”

The Paris Show collection is “almost similar to our [designer] collaborations,” Kulle said. “It’s high fashion and quality at the best price.” Choices range from beaded pants to a velvet cape featuring passementerie details and a military coat dressed with beading and decorative buttons.

“We’re showcasing our brand and our designers,” Kulle said. “We have 160 designers in-house.”

Aiming to be sold in stores in key metropolises and leading malls, the H&M home collection bows today. It will be offered in two American stores, the one in New Orleans and the Georgetown location.

The Swedish brand is seeing categories across the board grow. The sports collection is growing in size and cosmetics is also increasing. H&M started 40 new stores in the United States in 2012 and anticipates about another 40 for 2013.

Global expansion is also strong. Two stores will be opened in Mexico and five in Canada. In March, the retailer unveiled its first South American location in Santiago de Chile. Stores are planned for Vilnius and Klaipeda, Lithuania; Tallinn, Estonia; Belgrade, Serbia; and Jakarta.

The label’s largest store yet globally is in the works, a six-story flagship on Fifth Avenue that will boast 57,000 square-feet. A 42,500-square-foot door will also be unveiled in November in Times Square. The two stores will feature a very different vibe. The Fifth Avenue location will imitate a high-street store, elegant and sleek, while the Times Square unit will feature billboards and have what Kulle called a “full-on party atmosphere.”

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