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Fast fashion brands slow to adapt online retail

A new wave of digital disruption is impending from e-commerce companies like Asos and Amazon. At one time retailers like Zara and H&M disrupted the fashion industry with lightning-fast speed of production, trend-led merchandise and a sizeable physical footprint. But they have been slow to catch up with e-commerce. This is surprising given that their target audience, millennials, are most digitally savvy consumers.

As online players ate into its bottom line, Zara finally catapulted into e-commerce in 2010. Zara’s initial hesitance in selling online stemmed from fears the cost of delivery and returns would weigh heavily on profits and cannibalise existing stores.

H&M is rethinking its approach to how stores will better support its omnichannel model and make for a seamless, smooth and inspiring shopping experience. H&M is rolling out app features like scan and buy allowing customers to scan products in-store that are not available in their size and have it delivered to their home.

On the other hand an online seller like Asos has a higher level of new merchandise on its website, with the ability to alter prices as demand varies. Over half of its sales from its 15 million customers come from mobile devices. The retailer has invested heavily in app functions like visual search, a tool that enables shoppers to search its 85,000 plus products by uploading a photo on its mobile app. The online retailer expects sales growth of 30 to 35 per cent in 2017.