Retail news from around the globe

Alipay opens up to tourists

International visitors to the Chinese mainland can now for the first time access and use Alipay, the mobile payment and lifestyle platform used by more than 1.2 billion people worldwide, the company has announced.

A special international version of the Alipay app is now available for download for both iOS and Android devices, enabling visitors to register with their overseas mobile phone number to access the Tour Pass mini program.

Visitors can then use their international debit or credit card to load Chinese yuan (CNY) onto a prepaid card provided by Bank of Shanghai, and immediately begin using Alipay’s mobile payment platform to dine, shop, travel and play.

The app also allows visitors to access lifestyle services, such as hailing taxis, booking hotel accommodation and purchasing train tickets.

The minimum top-up for each card is CNY100 ($480), with the maximum balance capped at CNY2000 ($5800). The card is valid for 90 days, after which any remaining funds will be refunded automatically.

Alipay is the most popular digital payment platform in China, and is used by 87 per cent of people between the ages of 18 and 69, however access to the app has always required a Chinese bank account and phone number, making it inaccessible to short-term overseas visitors.

Giordano reveals new look in Dubai

Hong Kong-based apparel brand Giordano has revealed a new-generation store design in its renovated store in Mirdif City Centre in Dubai.

The 2000sqft store has maximised space for product displays and customer interaction, including wider entrances and larger, more comfortable fitting rooms.  

Energy-efficient LED lights have been installed, minimising the store’s carbon footprint.

Following more than 25 years of brand growth, Giordano, which is listed on the Hong Kong exchange, has opened eight new stores this year and plans to roll out the new design concept across the Middle East. It is also expanding to new markets in South Africa, Mongolia, France and Mauritius.

Vietnam’s stars to launch Uniqlo

Uniqlo has signed up a raft of Vietnamese celebrities to launch its much-awaited first store in the country. 

Uniqlo Vietnam will make its debut on December 6, opening in a three-level, 3097sqm space previously occupied by a Parkson department store. It is located opposite the local flagship stores of rival chains H&M and Zara.

The new store will be the Japanese apparel brand’s largest in Southeast Asia.

To support the opening, Uniqlo has launched a campaign video “Elevate Everyday” to introduce LifeWear to Vietnamese consumers, emphasising how the label is suited to local climate conditions and lifestyle. 

The video features a cast that includes well-known artists, models, designers and sports people. While the cast are from different backgrounds, the video shows how LifeWear suits their own unique lifestyles.

Starbucks NYC just got faster

Starbucks has opened the first-ever Starbucks pickup-only store in New York City’s Penn Plaza. The new store allows customers to place and pay for their order on a new app. Customers can track the progress of their order on a digital status board and then pick up their beverage and food items directly from a Starbucks barista.

In designing the new concept, the company began with a prototype in its support centre in Seattle, coming up with a design and method that made buying a coffee fast and simple but also gave baristas room to work and allowed for interaction between them and their customers.

One opening day observer, a reporter from Business Insider, said she believed that Starbucks Pickup would be perfect for regular Starbucks customers who want to grab their coffee and go. But she found the system unwieldy and confusing for casual customers and walk-ins. 

Selfridges enters fantasy world

Selfridges has entered the Christmas retail advertising fray with an alternative take on the genre. “Future Fantasy: A Christmas for Modern Times”, a short film starring actress Noomi Rapace.

The film was conceived by American artist Daniel Arsham and directed by Kanye West’s long-time collaborator and friend Nabil Elderkin. Alongside Rapace, it stars personalities from across the creative industries and popular culture.

It shows in a coolly stylised, edgy and, in parts, abstract way, Christmas celebrations now and 1000 years from now – and the holiday remains through the ages about family, friends and good cheer.

Selfridges’ rare foray into film advertising heralds the unveiling of the brand’s grand-scale omnichannel Christmas campaign, officially launched with the unveiling of the stores’ windows on October 17.

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