Can vending units help Uniqlo achieve success in the U.S.?
Uniqlo has not had an easy time of it in the U.S. The Japanese fashion chain, which once seemed set on opening stores in large numbers across the country, had to hit reset a couple of years ago and is still trying to figure out how to connect with American consumers. Its latest idea involves vending machines in airports and malls.
According to a Wall Street Journal report, Uniqlo will roll out vending machines this month and next in 10 airports and malls. The machines will sell basics to travelers at airports, like a lightweight down jacket for those who forgot to pack for colder weather.
The vending units, which are cheaper to operate than stores, will give Uniqlo access to consumers who might not have ventured into one of its locations while providing insights on what products people want to buy.
“We’re trying to understand where we can be more successful without making a big commitment,” Marisol Tamaro, head of U.S. marketing for Uniqlo, told the Journal.
The units, which stand six-feet-tall, will offer a range of shirts and jackets in various colors and sizes. Items are dispensed in cans and boxes and may be returned to a store or sent back via mail.
Both Macy’s and Safeway tested vending units selling consumer electronics and other gadgets more than a decade ago. Best Buy, the Journal reports, has generated millions in revenue at airports where it has vending machines. The consumer electronics retailer has 183 machines in operation.
In March, Uniqlo announced it would close some of the chain’s stores in second- and third-tier malls and relocate some to premium locations. Chelsey Tam, a Morningstar analyst, said the chain had been hurt by stocking the wrong styles and sizes in U.S. stores.
- Uniqlo Tries New Approach: Shirts in Vending Machines – The Wall Street Journal
- Will Uniqlo beat Zara with speed and customer focus? – RetailWire
- I, Robot Retailer – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Will vending units in airports prove successful for Uniqlo, as they have for Best Buy? What knowledge will Uniqlo will be able to take from vending unit transactions and apply to its stores in the U.S.?