H&M Has Finally Realized It’s 2013, Might Try This Whole “Online Store” Idea In U.S.

What’s a person to do when she needs an outfit for that one thing she’s going to but can’t possibly be bothered to go to a store? There’s this little thing called the Internet and online shopping, a phenomenon that thus far has appeared to stymie H&M’s efforts to join the rest of us here in 2013. H&M (which stands for Hennes & Mauritz [the theater critics in the Muppet movies, right?]) has been peddling its wares online in Sweden for over 15 years. But there’s no such tool for American shoppers, unless the current rumors churning out of the mill are to believed.

Relief may be in sight for those unwilling or unable to visit a brick-and-mortar H&M store. I can still cast my mind back to the summer of 2003 when I arrived home from a semester abroad, all self-congratulatory that I’d been inducted into the cool class of Americans who’d actually visited an H&M. And I still remember thinking, “It’s ridiculous that there’s no online store.”

Businessweek is all abuzz with speculation that the Stockholm-based retailer is finally ready to make its debut in the U.S.’s online realm with an online store reportedly set to open in August — which starts this week.

“I tried to buy stuff online, but you can’t,” said one student from North Carolina, who also discovered the retailer while abroad a few years ago. “We don’t have a store in Charlotte so the only real opportunity I get to shop there is if I’m out of town.”

Things have changed since I first landed back on American soil, deflated to learn that there were no H&Ms to be seen until I moved to the East Coast.  Now, there are over 300 stores across the country. Despite its expansion in recent years, there still are no locations in Montana, the Dakotas, Nebraska and 14 other states. Those poor people, right? Where do they buy their boyfriend style jeans and ballet flats?!?

So there’s a demand here, for sure. But this move comes at a time when its rival Zara is walking all over the competition, seven years into its reign as Europe’s biggest apparel seller and two years since it opened its own online store for U.S. customers. It might take some effort for the retailer to build steam.

H&M was “late to the party” in the U.S., said one analyst. As soon as those cyber doors open, he says “they need to be competitive from day one.”

Don’t be a tease, H&M. America has waited long enough for moderately priced pleather handbags and colorful cardigans.

H&M Aiming to Catch Zara With Delayed American Web Push [Businessweek]