|Photo Credits: Preview Chicago|
I’m a diehard Uniqlo fan. And no, I’m not doing this because I’m getting a GC. Today, after a long long time away from the blogosphere, I just decided to write about my most favorite fashion brand. It’s not just about the great quality of clothing that they produce but a trip to any Uniqlo store is like getting a lecture on how fashion brands and their fashion stores should be.
Below are some things that I like about Uniqlo which many fashion brands -- especially the ones in the Philippines – may learn from.
1. No more ugly fitting rooms.
In college, I have learned that around 70% of buying decisions are done in-store. What does this mean to fashion brands? It means an ugly fitting room is the gravest of sins! Before Uniqlo, I was never loyal to any fashion brand and what I noticed is that brands don’t really care that much about how their fitting rooms look like. In fact, I’ve experienced fitting clothes in a tiny room with boxes of clothes on the floor. That experience was made more unforgettable for me because I was already working as a Trade Marketing Assistant back then in an FMCG company. While I understand that in-store managers should really do everything within their capacities to make their stores look pretty, I cringe to the fact that they have neglected the most important part of a clothing store – the fitting room. This is where the customer finally decides whether or not he or she will buy the clothes.
Now, Uniqlo changed all that. In most Uniqlo stores, they have more than five fitting rooms – and their competitors only have around two. Uniqlo’s fitting rooms are well-lit, well-ventilated and well-designed – the ones their competitors have function as stockrooms sometimes. Uniqlo’s fitting rooms are very organized and they have one dedicated assistant for each fitting room in every store to attend to your needs – their competitors’ fitting rooms are almost always hard to find and you are -- more often than not -- left on your own.
This, I think, is why Uniqlo is a success here in the Philippines. They had specially answered to the need for a more convenient fitting (and decision-making) experience that their competitors had clearly taken for granted.
2. Not too much lights (and merchandising for that matter) that makes shopping easier and more convenient.
Another thing that I don’t understand with some clothing stores is that they put too much light on their displays – too much light that I remember fanning myself because it almost felt like Indian summer inside a fully air-conditioned mall. Did the in-store managers even care about the heat coming from the gazillion of lights that they installed? What more if you saw that they focused their energies on putting up a pretty store (which became hot because of the lights) but their fitting rooms were ugly? Talk about external beauty right? (pun intended)
I’m glad Uniqlo changed this too. Because of Uniqlo, not all fashion brands are about external beauty only. Uniqlo doesn’t have to put elaborate lights that only make the temperature inside the store rise making the overall shopping experience -- poor. They don’t have to put too many mannequins and displays that only adds clutter than value. Uniqlo had successfully adapted the Japanese culture of minimalism which allowed them to focus more on what matters to their customers.
3. It’s now easy to find the item that you want from other branches.
Gone are the days that when you try to ask an in-store assistant for a size of a particular item in other stores and then they’ll respond, “Ay, hindi po namin alam eh.” I mean, we are already in 2017 and we are now using computers to track the movement of our goods real-time and we can’t even maximize our resources to assist our customers?
Again, Uniqlo refused to follow the norm. Their in-store assistants use an app on their mobile devices to track inventories that help customers be informed where they can find the item that they want with the size that they want. They can even tell you specifically how many items of your size are there left in the store that you want.
4. Great fabric quality and design that is good for every day use.
With no intention to brag whatsoever, almost all of clothes are from Unqilo. What can I do? I was bedazzled not only by their products but also of their way of conducting their business. Quality and design-wise, Uniqlo is the kind of brand that I can definitely use every day. Designs are not too loud without sacrificing style. And workmanship is par excellence. I don’t remember repairing a button yet from any of my long sleeves and short sleeves bought from Uniqlo. It’s a sign that the quality of the clothing is high.
Oh, by the way, I worked for a clothing brand for men before called Dean & Trent. (Anyone familiar with the brand?) Anyway, the owner decided to discontinue the brand in 2011 but from the whole experience, I learned a lot about putting up my own business. Also, I learned that one the ways to check the quality of a workmanship of a clothing is to check if the buttons were sewn well.
5. Customer service with a Japanese touch.
I know this is just a small thing but I really like it when the cashier receives and returns my card with both hands and then slightly bows – Japanese style. It feels elegant – like I am some monarch shopping in their store. But this is the point of customer service right? To give the best service to our customers.
Uniqlo did this excellently. It’s like a adding a cherry-topping to the already good experience you’ve had when you entered their store -- and upon exiting it.