Uniqlo Hong Kong opens online store to mine trend data

HONG KONG, NNA - Japanese clothing retailer Uniqlo opened its own online portal for Hong Kong and Macau on Tuesday to acquire the data it needs to improve planning for fashion trends.

Customers can now order online from Uniqlo direct for pickup at a physical store or delivery anywhere in Hong Kong within three days.

“I will buy online…because I know my size,” Kiki Pang, a 25-year-old office worker said, while window-shopping at a Uniqlo store.

K. Leung, a retired woman in her 50s, said she prefers to shop at a store near her home. “I feel more confident if I can feel the texture and see the cut with my own eyes at a physical shop,” she said.

Uniqlo, owned by Fast Retailing Co., has been selling online since 2009 via Tmall, one of the biggest e-commerce platforms in mainland China. Its online sales account for 15 percent of combined Uniqlo sales in mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

“We spent nine years to meet this level,” Pan Ning, chief executive of Uniqlo Greater China was quoted as saying in the Hong Kong Economic Journal. “We will not ask Hong Kong to meet the same ratio instantly,

but we hope we can meet this target in future," he said.

"By establishing an online store, we can communicate with customers directly and understand their needs,” he added.

Pan said the firm may introduce artificial intelligence to provide more personalized service.

Asked if the company has any plans to reduce the number of physical stores or employees, Uniqlo’s communications representative said, “We will ensure there is enough staff to handle our expanding business.”

Uniqlo has 28 shops in Hong Kong and Macau. It began operating in Hong Kong in March 2005.

Online retail sales in Hong Kong totaled HK$13.7 billion ($1.75 billion) in 2016, growing at an annual rate of 15 percent in the five years through 2016, data from the Hong Kong Trade Development Council showed.

The council expects online retail sales to rise by 13 percent annually from 2016 to 2021.