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Top 3 rules for timing right in retail

As H&M venture into new markets, local retailers may feel uncertain about the impact their pricing and product will have. We've analyzed their strategy in depth.
Top 3 rules for timing right in retail | EDITED
  • HM-AW2014-kids
  • EDITD HM report frequency of newness
  • EDITD HM brand communications

H&M’s most recent international expansion, this time in Melbourne, Australia, has been met with relentless queues of shoppers throughout each day of opening week. The fanfare of the Swedish retailer’s entrance into the market, along with the massive overhaul of one of Melbourne CBD’s most historic buildings, has caused some local retailers to panic. Our just-published Australian Market Report exposes their retail strategy, analyzes the competition and gives full visibility across each retail fundamental: right product, right price and right time. Here, we summarize the 3 key rules of timing.

Timing Rule #1: Drop New Products Frequently
One of the key ways that ASOS have ramped up their site traffic and generated a buzz around their brand is by high levels of new product arriving each week. Consumers will return more often if what they see arriving is fresh, and will spend more if trends move fluidly and rapidly through the season. Analyzing the frequency of new drops at H&M, as well as comparisons to other local retailers, helps us understand where consumers will be drawn to.

A consistent number of new products arriving into store is the ideal – consumers know what to expect throughout the season. H&M are very good at this. They may not drop as many new products in each month as Topshop does, but their incredibly reliable number of new drops is testament to their sophisticated merchandising and supply chain.

Timing Rule #2: Communicate Regularly
Timing also relates to when and how a brand communicates with their customers. H&M use email newsletters well – they go out each Monday or Thursday and tend to focus on the womenswear collection. Very rarely do H&M’s newsletters focus on holidays or specific events in the world beyond H&M – which means they can use similar communications for each of their markets. The newsletters are also good at leading shoppers to purchase. The newsletter on the 14th February 2014 featured a green dress with beaded embroidery, which subsequently sold out just 14 days after the email went out. However, H&M are not the only successful communicators in this space. Sportsgirl create visually stimulating campaigns, which play with layout and imagery more than H&M do, and NastyGal, in the US, have created a fantastic brand voice, consistent through their communications.

Timing Rule #3: Stock trends fast
Being a fast-fashion retailer, H&M have a reputation of being quick to market on the latest trends. However, our data is evidence that this is not always the case. H&M stocked biker jackets and dungarees almost a year after Zara, Topshop and ASOS did, and they’re currently carrying low numbers of bomber jackets and acid wash denim, whilst competitors invest in many options. H&M wait until a trend is tried and tested, with awareness across the mass market, before they risk placing large-scale orders. This means that local retailers in Australia, or any new market H&M approach, have real opportunity to engage consumers with trend-led product ahead of H&M.

Discover more about H&M’s global strategy, plus key insights into their pricing strategy, timing and product, in our full free report available for download here.