ASSIGNMENT 2 – OBSERVATION1. The Setting I spent the whole last week on a business trip to Tokyo – Japan so all the observation were from 6pm- 9pm after work. I went to 2 department stores, 2 urban clothing shops for youngster (Uniqlo and Gap), an electronic store (Big Camera), a 100-Yen store, a general cosmetic store (in the city). Being a foreigner in a non-English speaking country is something of disadvantage to me, to a certain extend in this exercise.2. Observations a. Department stores The department stores are multi-storey medium to high end (Keio Department Store and Odakyu Department Store at Shinjuku station). I went there before several time during previous trip to Tokyo, but this is the first time I paid attention to some of the details. What draw me in these is the light. When you access from subway, there were signs with name of the stores in English, and more importantly, the symbol of the store. Keio’s symbol is a crown. It is important because names of the stores are identical with the name of the 2 subway lines in Tokyo, which is likely to be misunderstood by a foreigner like me. If you access from the street, the contrast is higher because it was cold and dark outside and warm and bright inside the stores. The fact that department stores have their symbol well lit at the upper part of their building, visible from many directions help me a great deal in locating the store from the street. Both department stores have glass door, but Keio have some person welcome you at the main entrance, similar to bell boy in hotels. It gave the impression that you are very much welcome and appreciated in the place. In Keio I did not notice any particular scent in the atmosphere, however in Odakyu the were a slight green tea scent near the escalator. Most of the buyers in Odakyu are women and middle age, while buyers in Keio include more men and younger women. In both stores, there are more seller than other lower end stores. All sellers are middle aged women, I notice only 1 male seller at the women’s shoes areas. Seller were very attentive and approach you about 3 minutes after you show up in their area. The Odakyu store had a bit low ceiling, about 2.5 m which make me feel trapped, especially when enter the area after going down from escalator. One interesting thing is that both of the stores have only signs in Japanese, except for the SALE words, so it was very difficult for a foreigner to know what the sale is about. Cashier are very close to main pathway and escalator. However the sign for cashiers are small and difficult to recognize. They do now allow picture taking inside the store, so I just managed to get only two pictures. Securities of store are not so obvious except the sign of no picture taking. The most remote area of the stores are for women ligeries. Not all customer bought at least a product from the stores.
Music here are nice lounge music, which put you in a slow, relax mode, you seem to enjoy the store and explore rather than seeking something to buy. In contrary, music in the urban clothing store (Uniqlo and Gap) were pop music with faster rhythm, to encourage customer to buy more I guess. Surprisingly, music in the cosmetic shop was some quick rap which made me just want to get out of the store as soon as possible. b. Urban clothing store and electronic store These are place with more variety of customers, both men and women. The number of seller arenot enough for customer, customer have a hard time to find a non-occupied seller to ask forinformation. Uniqlo have both young and middle aged customers. Children’s cloth are in the most remotearea. The number of seller are not enough for customer, customer have a hard time to find a non-
occupied seller to ask for information. There are some sign in English but most of the details are inJapanese, even some complicated discount policy. Security was visible Big Camera: seller are young, both men and women. Buyer are mostly young men, and about1/3 are middle age and women. Easy to find the price and technical specification of products. Howeversome products such as mobile phone goes with plan, and this requirement are not in English. Sellershave difficulties explaining this to customers. Not all customer were buyers, about 60% were browser Gap store had very customer welcome atmosphere, nice location, nice entrance, easy to getnoticed. Products are organized in a specific way identical to all Gap store around the world. At theentrance you can have a glance at the whole of store and can easy locate the area of the product youare looking for. If you just browse, all product are at eye level, only some at higher glance. Ceiling ofstore are high enough so you don’t feel trapped. There are sufficient number of staff, very attentive,approach customer about 4 minutes after entrance. c. 100 yen store at Harajuku station
Very crowded with all kind of customer, about 1/3 are foreigner, all of them boughtsomething. A lot of products, very systematic way of product arrangement. All sign in both English andJapanese, help customer a great deal. Clear store map at the stair, customer can easily locate productsthey need and browsing for and buy product they don’t actually need. d. Cosmetic store - Very customer - welcome entrance, open wide - Most customers and seller are women from 15-35 - Easy to notice sale sign and cashier sign, visible from outside. Probably the main target customer are passer-by - Not very logical arrangement of products, or because all sign in Japanese so I could not understand the logic of product arrangements. Sometimes products are organize by function, for example most of the daily toiletries are in the street-level floor and make up are at the basement. However I still find so much eye make up products at the street level floor. Maybe they had special promotion, or this is consider very basic need for all customers.
3. Insight - The more expensive the store, the less density of the products. Even in the same store, the sale are more crowded with products than in the more expensive area - The more expensive the store, the more seller they have and sellers are faster in approaching customer. - The less expensive store are more well-lit, probably easier for customer to locate products - The faster life span of product – or the cheaper the product, the faster rhythm the music in the store - Store arrangement may be very very much influenced by local culture. While I think the environment in the Gap Store should attract customer the most, because of the light, high ceiling, open door entrance, visibility of the store plan at entrance, number of customers at the store was very limited, compare to other store I visited on the same day.4. Opportunities I don’t know if these can be consider opportunities, I could not find things which are clearlybusiness opportunity or just some recommendations:
- Stores should all have symbol for easier recognition- Stores should have signs in English, especially when the sale and discount are complicated (buy 2, discount 990 Y on the second one, etc). Otherwise they need to create some pictures/symbol to illustrate this, so you don’t even need language. One may consider inventing a symbol for this kind of discount, register it and sell to all store in a sticker form so that they can stick this to the rack. That way you can minimize the number of seller which used to have to explain the condition to international customer in sign language. I think people in Japan are really in to the cute factor, so the symbol need to be cute to attract local customer.