TOKYO–Fast Retailing said Monday it has formed a partnership with consultancy and technology services company Accenture to create digital innovation in the retail industry. In the longer term, the two companies said that the partnership may take the form of a joint venture, subject to board and regulatory approvals.
“We want to become the kind of business that uses the latest information–and not just information from within the company, but also information from outside the company and personal information– to inform the customer experience, both real and virtual, and then to deliver that information to the customer together with the clothes,” Tadashi Yanai, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Fast Retailing, said at a press conference.
At this early stage, specifics related to the kinds of technology the partnership will eventually develop are few, but Yanai said he believes the two companies will create a shopping experience that has not until now existed anywhere in the world. In addition to the way people shop, he said the partnership will have an effect on how products are developed and produced, how orders are delivered to customers, and how staffers of Fast Retailing work.
“I think there will be fewer boundaries between different companies and functions,” Yanai said.
Hajime Tamaoki, Fast Retailing’s chief information officer, said one goal of the partnership will be to seamlessly integrate the physical and digital stores, allowing customers to shop when and where they want. He acknowledged that one downfall of the company’s current e-commerce platform is that the majority of its users are “anonymous.” Tamaoki said Fast Retailing will endeavor to increase the number of registered users so that it can use personal information to recommend products, and integrate customer feedback into product development and styling.
A video was shown at the press conference proposing examples of technologies that may be possible through the partnership. These included smart advertisements that interact with and can even be shopped by passersby, digital fitting rooms, the ability to find a product simply by snapping a photo of it, and customizable product design.
Fast Retailing’s biggest asset is the Uniqlo chain but it also owns several other brands including Theory, Helmut Lang, Princesse Tam Tam and Comptoir des Cotonniers.