UNIQLO, the Japanese global apparel retailer has just made India debut this month with Ambience Mall Vasant Kunj, New Delhi. At the sidelines of the launch event, Shantanu, Head of Marketing Uniqlo spoke exclusively with indianretailer.com highlight way forward for the brand in Indian market.
What took Uniqlo so long to foray Indian market? Don’t you think the delay has created more competition for the brand?
Well, I do not go by same! The kind of growth is happening in the Indian market the opportunities are limitless. Moreover, being a Japanese brand ‘Perfectness’ is in our DNA, be it manufacturing, selecting local partners, product assortment, we do not go ahead without everything is perfect. So, this is first criteria for us when we look at some new market.
Consumers’ readiness is yet another crucial parameter that we consider before foraying unexplored territory. Based upon our research that we have done in order to learn about Indian consumers, manufacturing, opting right collaborations, selling location and right designer (for exclusive Kurta category), now we feel confident that Indian consumers are evolved to consume our brand.
Third component is the ‘Environment’ which includes government policy for FDI, government receptivity amongst other environmental factor, that is crucial to us. Right now all three factors are working in our favour, making it the right time for India foray.
100 percent FDI is allowed in contract manufacturing also. Would we seeing Uniqlo setting up its manufacture facility in India?
Typically, Uniqlo does not open manufacturing plants, we manufacture through our partners. Although, there is very close hand holding goes into entire process. Uniqlo hand-hold its partners across the globe, India is no exception.
What is Uniqlo’s strategy to select location for a new store? Coming to Delhi first over Mumbai, is this strategic choice of the brand?
We open at prime locations only, regardless, how much time it takes. We are starting with Delhi but given the opportunity that India offers, Delhi is just a starting point for us. We plan to make Uniqlo accessible across India. Even in Delhi, three stores cannot cater entire Delhi so expanding within Delhi and beyond is on cards. Side by side, we are also working on building our online store which will be operational soon. We are working on all three components simultaneously.
For next six months our focus would be on understanding Indian market better including taste, color, pricing, sizes. Thereafter, we will roll out the next phase of expansion.
With ecommerce expansion, the focus will be on pan India or top eight cities?
Our e-commerce is not operational yet. Although, everything is ready except the ‘buynow’ option which will be ready soon. Our endeavor will be to reach all pin codes which is a gradual process, we can reach-out all pin codes in single go. Having said that I would also like to highlight we do not intend to go marketplaces as far as our online expansion is concerned.
Tell us about you TG in Indian market?
We are made for all brand. There are brands which play in different niches, for example, some may have expertise in denim or innerwear or so on and so forth. Irrespective of gender and generation we cater to everybody. We work actively across the product segments. In fact, in many cases we create new categories which even don’t exist, for example, winter thermal-wear, though the category exist, but many people do not wear winter thermals because it is too uncomfortable, so we created a category of thin layered thermal wear which is big hit worldwide. With India roll out we have introduced Kurta category which soon be part of global portfolio.
Uniqlo stores worldwide are known for state of the art in-store technology integration. What you have done in this aspect in first Indian store?
Technology is not the starting point for us. We resort to technology when we find some customer barrier or tension/problem, we do not add technology just sake of implementing. Our focus is on smoothening the shopping experience is it online or offline. If technology can justify the purpose we are happy to embrace.