October 18, 2009

Spanish Zara to sell clothes online

Finally, a dream – for some – to come true. Zara, Europe’s largest clothing retailers, is finally going online. That is – now one can buy Zara brand clothes later this year in selected European markets. Whether it’d come to USA, we don’t know yet, but at least now a Zara fashionista would be able to order in Europe, paying a little bit of extra for the international shipping.

Yes, Zara stores do exist in USA, and some of you might ask – why buy online and pay for international shipping if one can go to any of the stores around the country and get the same stuff in person (plus, to try it on before getting.) Well, as much as Zara might be offering a unified assortment, as many believe, around the country, this is far from the truth. I’ve shopped at Zara in Oregon, California, Texas, New York, D.C., Virginia, Illinois, and Washington – and every time there is a unique difference in the assortment a store in one state offered that another store in a different state would carry.

This said, what is offered at Zara stores in Spain and Russia, let’s say, is tailored to the local trends and cultural differences. In Moscow, Russia – Zara offered more “sexy” clothing and accessories. In Spain – at the time I was there in the fall – Zara stores in Barcelona and Madrid offered more knits with colorful embroideries, very tight pants and jeans, flowery loose see-through blouses and many high heal shoes.

As Zara representatives stated, they “will start online sales for the autumn/winter 2010 season, and, initially, the online sales will be launched in Spain, France, Germany, UK, Italy and Portugal, to be followed by the progressive rollout in all Zara markets.”

Sweden's H&M, Europe's second-largest clothing retailer, already sells its products online in Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands while the Gap Inc, the largest US group, does the same in its home market.

The move to sell Zara brand cloths only came at a time of declining retail sales in Spain, which accounts for about one-third of the company's sales, amid a rapid rise in unemployment.

Anne Critchlow, analyst at Société Générale, said: “Zara going online will be taken as a strong positive by the market. It had been falling behind in e-commerce.”

The Spanish company, which opened 166 stores in 35 countries in the first half of the year, brought the total to more than 4,400. We hope this online expansion would bring more demand from all the countries around. One market in need that’s longing for it for sure is Russia, at least that’s what my girlfriends tell me, asking me once again to order Victoria Secret and J. Crew online and ship it to them to Russia.

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