Japanese super-brand Uniqlo has officially completed the digital leg of its major expansion, with its long-awaited e-commerce platform launching today. Naturally, since online shopping is our middle name, we immediately took to Uniqlo.com to see whether we’ll be bookmarking it — or whether we’ll stick to shopping in the store’s several brick-and-mortar locations. Read on for our (very general) assessment.
Ease of use: Overall, the site’s not too difficult to navigate but it’s definitely busy. Busier than we expected of the minimalist Japanese brand. You’re first asked to select if you’re a man or a woman, and from there it’s a lot to take in. First, there’s a page featuring select fall picks, which are showcased on models (good ones, including Lindsey Wixon) and when you hover over each, the looks roll over to reveal stills of each item. It’s a fresh, visually appealing choice.
If you’re looking for something more specific, click on over to the general women’s section (a bit hard to find, on the top navigation) and choose a category (skirts, jeans, coats, bras, etc). There’s a lot to sift through, so the brand organized its offerings with stylistic titles. For example, if you’re shopping for dresses, you’ll find the inventory grouped under captions like “easy living” (flannel, slouchy) and “understated elegance” (solid jumpers, wool wrap dresses).
Sizing: So far, most sizes seem to be stocked (unlike at the NYC stores, which are almost always devoid of smaller sizes).
Logging in: After items are placed in your cart and you’re ready to check out, you’ll be asked to register. What’s interesting here is that users are able to login via Facebook, which adds a social media component to the experience.
Shipping and Returns: Standard orders over $100 receive free shipping, and it’s $7 for orders under $100. Probably not the best move, considering the items are so inexpensive from the outset (standard knitwear starts at under $30, with hosiery as little as $12), so getting to $100 if you’re not buyng a coat or some cashmere might be difficult. It also could be considered unwise because peripheral competitors like Zara —whose entire e-commerce experience is technically and visually a pleasure—offer free standard shipping and returns. Here, there’s an additional $7 return fee, as well.
The bottom line: While the site is a fantastic resource for those without a Uniqlo store nearby, we’ll likely only be inclined to use it if we’re shopping for something over $100, or if we’re unable to locate an item we want in the store. That said, there’s no denying the chic simplicity of Uniqlo as a brand. Click through the gallery above to see some key online offerings.
Above trend gallery compiled by Liz Doupnik