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European fashion group Inditex, operator of global fast fashion chain Zara is making an aggressive global push this year through expansion of stores, following a 10% rise in full net-year earnings.
The group, which also owns fashion brands Pull&Bear and Bershka, plans to open 450-500 new offline stores in 2017 while closing approximately 150-200 of its smaller stores worldwide.
By eliminating smaller stores and focusing on bigger flagship locations, Inditex will reach customers with limited access to its 7,292 offline stores through online channels – especially in Asia.

Product has become so commoditized – a sea of sameness regardless of outlet – that it’s no wonder Amazon and Walmart are among the only retailers with positive financial performance – RSR Research

This month, Zara launched official ecommerce sites in Singapore and Malaysia and also announced that later this month, Thailand and Vietnam will also get official ecommerce platforms of its own. India is poised to launch later this year.

Online demand for Zara Thailand

Online reception for the Thailand site has been positive with multiple users logging onto Zara’s official Facebook page and expressing joy about the retailer moving online.

Comments on Zara’s Facebook page

Google Trend data shows that there has been an increase in search terms relating to finding Zara products. Thais are searching online for authentic items, bags and shoes in particular, as seen in the search terms below.

Search term translation: “Authentic Zara bag, ready to be delivered”

Search term translation: “Zara shoes, ready to be delivered”

Why the online push?

Zara has become one of the world’s most popular brands and in Thailand, counterfeit or secondhand Zara products can easily be found offline at wholesale malls and online marketplaces. By launching an official brand.com, the company is attempting to capture the dollars of shoppers looking specifically for Zara products online and eliminating the traffic to third party vendors.

A search for ‘Zara’ on Lazada Thailand shows a limited number of 32 items from online merchants.

 There is a nationwide demand for Zara in Thailand. Interestingly, Phuket and southern Thailand province Phang-nga show a higher degree of online interest than browsers in Bangkok.
Why? Possibly because the capital city is flooded with Zara stores and don’t need to go online to buy items. It makes sense for Zara to offer nationwide delivery to cater to where demand is greatest.

Decline of fast fashion?

Despite mixed claims that fast fashion is dying, Inditex Group has outperformed its industry, including rival H&M in revenue.
Zara is currently putting other offline retailers to shame with its impressive earnings – speculated that current online makes up for 6% of the brand’s total sales. If the company can solidify its ecommerce presence in Asia by localizing and understanding each markets challenges, we can expect that number to grow.
Zara isn’t alone in Asia’s market to grab sales. Owner of Uniqlo Tadashi Yanai has also expanded aggressively in Southeast Asia and commented,
“The ability to provide anybody, anywhere, anytime with the ultimate, high-quality day-to-day clothing will set us apart. We want to deliver products that customers want quickly. That’s why it’s Fast Retailing.”