Uniqlo to double online sales ratio with help from real stores
Nikkei -- Apr 26
Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is launching a counteroffensive against Amazon.com and other rivals in the online fashion market, using its vast network of real-world stores to differentiate itself.

One goal is to more than double the casualwear chain's global online sales ratio to 20% over the next two years or so, Chairman and CEO Tadashi Yanai told Nikkei in an interview on Monday. His strategy includes an enhanced line of products sold only over the internet.

"We are renewing our online shopping sites, their systems and distribution around the world," Yanai said.

At the same time, Fast Retailing intends to accelerate new store openings outside Japan, mostly elsewhere in Asia. Management believes physical stores give the company an edge over rapidly growing online-only rivals like Amazon and Zozotown, a Japanese online fashion mall.

Brick-and-mortar locations make it possible to offer conveniences like in-store pickup. Fast Retailing provides this click-and-collect service in Japan, the European Union and China, among other locations.

Fast Retailing CEO Tadashi Yanai says the company's "overseas business growth is swinging into full gear." (Photo by Maho Obata)

Uniqlo's annual online sales now come to about 140 billion yen ($1.28 billion), accounting for 9% of the total. Simple math suggests the figure would rise to about 300 billion yen in a couple of years, if the 20% goal is reached. For comparison, Spanish fashion retailer Inditex, known for the Zara brand, rings up the equivalent of 330 billion yen online.

Fast Retailing's consolidated sales for the year ending August 2018 are forecast to surpass 2 trillion yen for the first time, driven mainly by overseas Uniqlo operations. It currently runs nearly 2,000 stores in 19 countries and regions. The foreign store count exceeds the number in Japan, and sales for the six months through February surpassed those at home.

News source: Nikkei
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