Will Uniqlo beat Zara with speed and customer focus?
Fast Retailing Co., the owner of Uniqlo, is counting on a new design and delivery center to help it outrace Inditex, the world’s largest clothing retailer and owner of Zara, for share in markets around the globe.
The new center will help Uniqlo shorten the time from design to delivery to about 13 days, roughly equal to Zara, Tadashi Yanai, the owner of Fast Retailing, told Bloomberg. The facility will also help Uniqlo expand its consumer direct business and custom clothing sales. Improving the efficiency of the company’s same-day delivery service in the Tokyo area is also expected to be a benefit.
While speed is critical to Fast Retailing’s strategy for overtaking Inditex, Mr. Yanai believes Uniqlo has other advantages when compared to Zara.
“Zara sells fashion rather than catering to customers’ needs,” Mr. Yanai told Bloomberg. “We will sell products that are rooted in people’s day-to-day lives, and we do so based on what we hear from customers.”
Uniqlo has had some difficulty rooting itself in the daily lives of American consumers. Chelsey Tam, a Morningstar analyst, said the chain has stocked the wrong styles and sizes in its U.S. stores. In a reset, the chain is shuttering stores in less desirable malls and moving into more premium locations.
Zara is not standing pat as rivals such as Uniqlo adjust their strategies. While smaller stores are increasingly popular in retailing circles, Zara’s new flagship in the chain’s hometown of La Coruna, Spain has gone big. The store, which covers 54,000-square-feet over five stories, will serve as the model for Zara flagships around the globe. It will replace four smaller locations around La Coruna when it opens.
The new flagship, according to a Wall Street Journal report, is intended to carry a full range of Zara products. The chain is also pursuing an aggressive omnichannel strategy. The company’s goal, according to Inditex CEO Pablo Isla, is to achieve “full integration of the brick-and-mortar stores and online businesses.”
- Uniqlo Thinks Faster Fashion Can Help It Beat Zara – Bloomberg
- Zara’s New Focus: Bigger Bricks, More Clicks – The Wall Street Journal
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Which fast-fashion chain — Uniqlo or Zara — is more likely to prevail in a head-to-head competition in the U.S. over the next decade? Are there other current retailers that you think are just as likely or more likely to disrupt the apparel market over that time?