The official word from Uniqlo's headquarters remains non-committal, but there is increasing evidence that the popular and growing Japanese mega-chain is looking to start selling its wares online later this year. Specifically, AdAge claims to have obtained a document detailing plans to have systems in place to start e-commerce in mid-October. This schedule would synchronize with the chain's newly announced San Francisco flagship store, and coincide with its first efforts to expand business in North America beyond Manhattan. Uniqlo currently offers online shopping in parts of Asia as well as through its U.K. website (pictured above).
According to AdAge, the document contains a timeline for launching online shopping as well as a goal of building the U.S. market to $10 billion by 2020 with 20% of that volume coming from web sales. That would mean a vastly increased rate of new store openings for the chain. Reportedly, the plan includes a search for outside partners to create and market Uniqlo's online store. The plan would also coincide with competitor H&M's announced plant to open e-commerce in the U.S. by mid-Fall. H&M, however has around 200 stores in the U.S. compared with the four that Uniqlo is expected to have by the end of the year.
Not surprisingly, Uniqlo's official, public stance is that online shopping is in the works, and a series of partner searches have been ongoing, but there is no official launch date. AdAge's documents along with the San Francisco store announcement suggest that the chain's cautious pace for expanding business in North America is about to speed up very soon which is good news for customers haven't been able to get to New York, but have been tantalized by increasing coverage of Uniqlo online and in the national press. Looks like they won't have to wait much longer.
Japanese Retailer Uniqlo Exploring Online Store for U.S. by Kunur Patel (AdAge Digital)
Uniqlo (Official Site)
Uniqlo Heads West To San Francisco