Retail news from around the globe

Chatime goes Instagrammable 

Shaken ice-tea brand Chatime has incorporated large areas of 3D-painted walls into the interior design of its tea shops in Japan. The vivid designs, which are different in every outlet, were created by local Japanese artists for people to check in on social media.

The strategy, which follows the trend to take pictures with bubble tea for social check-ins, has seen customers spending more time queuing for a picture than for a cup of bubble tea.

In a similar move, Chatime has launched limited products with visually appealing packages to encourage Instagram posting.

The Taiwanese global franchise chain is now the fastest-growing brand in its category, with three stores opening every two months. It expects to expand to 35 outlets within Japan by the end of this year.

Skechers opens in Jewel Changi

US athletic footwear brand Skechers has opened the brand’s largest experience store in Southeast Asia, at  Singapore’s Jewel Changi airport.

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The 5000sqft duplex store’s interior has been designed with an overall modern and sleek look, featuring bright lighting and cement panels. On opening day, more than 2500 shoppers and 250 invited guests were at the store to participate in activities, including a fashion and dance showcase.  

It is also the first store in Singapore to include a customisation zone for shoes and apparel.

Jewel itself is a nature-themed entertainment and retail complex on the landside of the airport. It features attractions such as the world’s tallest indoor waterfall and various garden-themed walks.

Skechers is the third-largest athletic footwear brand in the US. It earned more than US$4.64 billion ($6.68 billion) in revenues during the 2018 fiscal year.

Uniqlo set for Indian opening

Uniqlo India is counting down to the launch of its first three stores. The Japanese fast-fashion retailer first announced plans to open in India in late 2017 but it has taken more than 18 months to secure necessary approvals, locations and prepare operations. 

The stores will open in the Delhi National Capital Region, with the first 35,000sqft outlet due to start trading in three months’ time. The move is part of the brand’s global strategy to gain ground on rival brands Zara and H&M.

Goop targets the men’s market

Goop, the US website started by actress Gwyneth Paltrow, has debuted a podcast called Goopfellas as well as a monthly men’s-focused newsletter. Goop sees 2.5 million unique visitors a month, according to Elise Loehnen, Goop head of content, and 23 per cent of its existing audience is male.

The podcast and web content will focus on a variety of topics, including mental health, self-care, toxic and modern masculinity, relationships, health and food.

“Our opportunity isn’t to bro out with them, but to help men feel more connected to their bodies and emotions,” said Loehnen. “It’s less performative and more intuitive. That doesn’t exist as much for men, and there is a real opportunity for something softer.”

Goop has made itself a household name, due in large part to its embrace of the wellness movement. While it has received criticism since its launch in 2008 for hawking products with unfounded claims, like the benefits of using a US$66 vaginal jade and rose quartz egg, it has managed to skyrocket to a valuation of US$250 million ($360 million) and expand internationally to markets including Japan and the UK.

Alibaba welcomes US sellers

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba will allow small US businesses to sell on its website, as it seeks to tap into the business-to-business e-commerce market and fend off rivals like Amazon.

The change will open up markets to US merchants in countries served by Alibaba, including India, Brazil and Canada. US merchants, previously able to only buy on Alibaba.com, can now also sell to other US-based businesses on the marketplace. 

According to Reuters, roughly one-third of buyers on Alibaba.com are US-based. More than 95 per cent of sellers come from China.

Alibaba’s pitch comes as the company faces lean e-commerce revenue growth, which has been further threatened by the US-China trade spat and a growing number of rivals such as recently listed Pinduoduo. 

LVMH lifts marketing spend

French multinational luxury goods company LVMH has posted a 15 per cent increase in overall revenue in the second quarter of 2019, to about $20 billion, with the largest growth coming from a 20 per cent increase in the fashion and leather goods sector.

LVMH attributed this to the successful tenures of new designers Virgil Abloh at Louis Vuitton and Kim Jones at Christian Dior.

Asia was a particularly strong, with the region making up a third of the company’s overall revenue and outpacing every other part of the world by at least 10 per cent.According to Glossy website, this success has led LVMH to make some riskier plays in recent months, like increasing its marketing spending across all its brands. Marketing expenses, up 15 per cent year-over-year, mostly went to developing retail stores and pumping more money into advertising, including celebrity-studded campaigns for three Louis Vuitton bags released throughout the year.

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