Can you explain the growth and expansion strategy of UNIQLO’s retail system in Vietnam, as well as some of the company’s experiences in overcoming the pandemic?
|Osamu Ikezoe, general director of UNIQLO Vietnam |
So far, we have achieved our target to open retail stores in Vietnam as planned, despite serious restrictions during the pandemic. We consider our mission to support our customers’ living conditions, to make them happier and offer more convenience whether they stay at home or go out for work or leisure.
With that in mind, we try our utmost to improve our products’ quality and performance to meet the fast changing demands of customers to fit all purposes, and to provide services exceeding their expectations as well as to showcase the innovative changes of our brand each year.
It’s a source of pride for both the leadership team and staff that we have received a lot of good feedback from our customers about our products, which have become familiar for many people in their daily lives through the most challenging period of the pandemic. This is a dynamic for us to continuously open and even increase the speed of opening new stores to meet such strong demands.
Consumption habits seem to have changed since 2020, so most fashion brands and retailers are shifting from opening physical stores to investing in e-commerce platforms. How has UNIQLO adapted to such a trend?
We will celebrate our first anniversary of the official UNIQLO online store on November 4, which is considered as an independent store and not an auxiliary sales channel. We have received strong support from our customers regarding both physical and online stores. We see Vietnam as a market of strong potentiality thanks to the high rate of using smartphones, for example, and the ever-changing shopping habits, especially from teenagers, who generally have a great passion for online shopping.
As a global fashion brand, and boasting our authentic LifeWear philosophy, we always try to bring the core value of our products to as many people as possible through all channels. Customers can visit our physical stores to touch and feel our products directly, and then can choose to buy online for the next time around. We want to create seamless shopping experience connecting online to offline channels and vice versa for our customers that are easier and faster to use.
For us, there is no difference and no conflict between physical and online stores. All platforms are now operating smoothly to promote each other and we have increasing numbers of fans for all of them. In fact, since we opened our online store, the number of customers coming to our physical stores have also increased thanks to increasing awareness of UNIQLO across the country.
Despite the increasing popularity of online shopping these days, UNIQLO still wishes to communicate directly with our customers in stores to bring them the most impressive and outstanding services.
What is unique about the newest store in Vincom Ba Trieu in Hanoi?
UNIQLO Vincom Ba Trieu features a full option for our latest collections of the fall-winter 2022 season, from our authentic HEATTECH and Ultra Light Down to KNIT collection and our recycled fleece collection. This is our thirteenth retail store and the newest special store in Vietnam, which also offers the latest LifeWear collections from UNIQLO worldwide. Furthermore, at UNIQLO Vincom Ba Trieu, now you can pamper yourself with the largest collection of KNIT collection, including exclusive and full line up of Extra Fine Merino series and sweaters, as well as the 3D Knit product line using WHOLEGARMENT* technology.
What is unique about the new store is the way it is decorated in a modern and stylish design in line with the modern, sophisticated lifestyles of Hanoi and its people. One of our important strategies when opening a store is to create new, unique, and different ambiances between stores, so you will find each UNIQLO store has its own style and decoration.
For example, in UNIQLO Pham Ngoc Thach, we have the UTme! Corner where you can print your own t-shirts; but in UNIQLO Vincom Ba Trieu, you can inspire with our special UTme! Collection, decorated with unique patterns depicting Hanoi’s streets through the brushstrokes of a Vietnamese artist.
Especially in this store, we also promote for some local signature coffee shops and enterprises to demonstrate how UNIQLO Vincom Ba Trieu can connect in the harmony with the local community.
How does UNIQLO support its staff and what solutions do the company have to retain good employees and attract new, highly qualified ones?
Developing local Vietnamese talents has always been our top priority. In order to do that, we offer them training and coaching courses with experienced experts, not only in Vietnam but on a global scale. Vietnam is rich with a young and smart labour force who have good and active skills, so UNIQLO usually offers promotion policies to encourages them to work harder and foster a long-term commitment. Working in our environment, young workers have been offered many more opportunities for advancement and salary bumps.their career development.
Along with expanding the retail system and opening new stores, I think the most important mission is to carry out human resource training as promised and committed.
UNIQLO has a close commitment with the Vietnamese government in promoting and training a high-quality labour force. In 2018, Tadashi Yanai, chairman, president and CEO of our parent company Fast Retailing, had a meeting with former Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and promised to offer human resources training to help young Vietnamese people to be able to work anywhere in the world.
Now, among around 1,000 Vietnamese labourers working for UNIQLO in Vietnam, dozens of them have since been appointed as managers at our stores in Vietnam and worldwide, especially in Japan. Currently, all UNIQLO stores in Vietnam are run by local store managers.
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