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A Unique Way to Drive Shopping Online: Uniqlo

Competitive pricing can only go so far if you can’t get shoppers to your online store. Uniqlo, the baby of Fast Retailing Co. Ltd. has made big waves in the US, after their tremendous success in Japanese and Chinese markets.

Although their company started as a casual, unisex brand, they have transformed into an effortless and modern clothing brand. Priced higher than H&M, but lower than Benetton or American Apparel, this simplistic clothing does garner a unique share of the market.

Uniqlo is intriguing not just because of their product, but rather their marketing and growth strategies. Two weeks ago, I waited outside of the Union Square store for 35 minutes just to gain entry to shop. I couldn’t help but think to myself, “Well, now that I have waited, I have to buy something when I get in.”

Why? Uniqlo inadvertently (or maybe purposely) presented a similar strategy to that of the Flash Sale; high demand with exclusive purchasing ability. Being an eCommerce professional, I was perceptive to this strategy, and wanted to learn more.

So, I asked a store associate what was going on. “Why are you only letting 25 people in at a time,” I asked. With a nervous smile, she replied, “We stagger entry so everyone can have a pleasurable shopping experience.” She was right. If they let the 100 people in at once, Uniqlo would have been a madhouse.

Even more interesting was their online store. According to this store associate, the US online store would not launch until December, even though it launched shortly after my in-store visit. Way to create hype for online shoppers. With these strategies in place, the online store sales figures are quite good for the first month of being live in the US.

The Uniqlo Lesson:

While there are many strategies to bolster sales online, retailers must not forget about generating hype and standing out from their competition. Uniqlo did so through promoting friendly exclusivity, and not being afraid to wait for their online launch. Check out Uniqlo Lucky Line, launched in Japan, to connect online shoppers with a tangible shopping experience.

They appealed to the popularity of their products, and maintained the resolve of a high-luxury brand. Promote these same values for your online store through:

Limited-Time Offers: Broadcasting limited-time deals or product availability encourages shoppers to jump on the opportunity. For example, if you have a product that continually sells out, offer a limited-time offer to order multiples of that item for a discount.

Membership Specials: Allowing users to join a shopping club to receive exclusive access to new products or discounted pricing. Certain online stores, such as ShoeDazzle require a membership to even shop.

Flash Sales: Similar to an auction, Popup Flash Sales offer online shoppers the option to buy before anyone else gets the chance. It makes the shopper feel like they have won out against other shoppers, making the product more desirable.

Like Uniqlo, start by determining your USP (unique selling proposition) , and choose a marketing strategy that enhances your offerings to drive sales to your online store.

Arie Shpanya

Arie is the former COO, Executive Chairman, and Co-Founder of Wiser, a dynamic pricing and merchandising engine for online retailers and brands. He has extensive experience in business development with a focus on eCommerce (eBay and Amazon), and is a guest blogger on Econsultancy, VentureBeat, and more.

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