I wasn’t aware of Uniqlo until stumbling across it in New York when I needed somewhere to shelter from the rain. When I walked in, it was a little overwhelming, there were harsh florescent lights, mirrored walls and a vast amount of clothes – it was a lot to take in!
So after seeing the buzz on Twitter around the Manchester opening and a few location targeted adverts on Instagram and Facebook, I had to check it out in the opening week.
The opening day went down really well, there were performers outside the store playing Japanese Taiko drums, creating quite a stir (it was a little too early for some to be playing drums) but the crowd was pulled in by promotions, competitions and goody bags to the first 150 customers.
The store looks great from the outside, it has injected much needed life and colour into the grey, dull Market Street.
I was pleasantly surprised when I walked in the store to see that the layout was a lot easier to digest than the chaotic New York store. A lot of natural lighting, neutral wooden and glass fittings with colour pops from the displays of products and promotional materials. It very much reminded me of a Gap store, very simplistic, which perfectly aligns with their ‘LifeWear. Simple made better.’ slogan. Uniqlo also know that their products might not fit everyone, offering a free same-day alteration service in store on any purchases over £20.
I didn’t receive a greeting on the door which surprised me; with it still being opening week I thought they would have someone in place to welcome customers and hand out baskets or flyers with offers on etc, especially after all of the promotions and competitions they were running on the first day.
However, this theme of a lack of staff at key points continued through the rest of my visit. Whilst walking around I didn’t see one member of floor staff which baffled me and when I couldn’t find the size I wanted on the rails, there was nobody to ask. But once I saw the size of the queues at the changing rooms and the tills, I presumed they’d shifted their resources to other busier areas of need.
The store layout was easy to navigate; even though it’s split over three floors, it was open, there was lots of natural lighting from floor to floor windows at the front of the store, and it’s easily a place where you could spend a long time browsing.
Uniqlo shout about their honesty as a brand and in store they’re doing this too, with several displays showcasing the materials that are used to make their products – this honesty is a real selling point for consumers.
There is an art exhibition inside, Inside MCR, which is specific to Manchester and will only be here for a month, with local artists showcased within a seating area. Uniqlo also did this with their Oxford Street London store launch. Like the Manchester exhibition, 'This Way to Utopia' in Oxford Street featured six leading Londoners from the local music, art, and fashion scenes. This is a great way to get the local community involved in their new openings.
Uniqlo stands for simplicity, and they believe that everyone can benefit from simple, well-designed clothes. This echo's in their store design, it’s simple and well designed with the consumers convenience in mind.
Uniqlo states to be more than just a clothing brand but a way of thinking and you can tell the store has been designed with Manchester in mind, with the Manchester specific artist displays, the rain proof block tech coats being ‘perfect for Manchester’, and since visiting the store I have noticed a rise in the amount of people wearing block tech coats.
They really play up to the pride of Manchester which people react very well to whilst keeping their simple yet effective global brand approach at heart.
Customer Experience Review