What is user experience? The importance of UX in retail

In recent years, “user experience (UX)” has attracted so much attention that the term “UX generation” has been coined in the retail industry. In this article, we will introduce what user experience means, how to engage the UX generation as customers, and examples of efforts to improve user experience.

What is user experience?  The importance of UX in retail

table of contents

  1. What is user experience (UX)?
  2. The importance of UX in retail
  3. How to convert the UX generation into customers
  4. Real store
  5. online shop
  6. Fusion of offline and online
  7. Examples of initiatives at physical stores
  8. The basement of Hankyu Department Store becomes a theater-style department store.
  9. UNIQLO app that delivers real-time store information in real time
  10. Marui has transformed into a store that “doesn’t have to sell”
  11. summary

What is user experience (UX)?

“User Experience” is a general term for the experience that users have through products and services. It refers to an experience that includes not only the ease of use of a product or service, but also the user’s feelings and impressions, such as whether they were able to comfortably accomplish what they wanted to do, whether they were impressed, and what kind of impression they received.

The goal of measures to improve user experience is to guide user behavior to the point where the user ultimately has an experience that is fun, comfortable, and moving.

“UI/User Interface” is often confused with user experience, but UI refers to screens, web designs, banner designs, etc. that are easy for users to use.

“Usability” is also a term that refers to the ease of use of a product or service.

We will take the user experience a step further and pursue ease of use in pursuit of a comfortable user experience.

In other words, user experience is a broader concept that includes user interface and usability.

The importance of UX in retail

In recent years, we have often heard the term “UX generation” in the retail industry.

This is a generation that places more emphasis on “experiences” than “things” when purchasing something, and is primarily a younger generation of millennials (generations born between 1980 and 2005). It is organized around the center.

People of the UX generation have a very rational way of thinking, and there is a point where they think there is no need to go to a store if you just want to buy something.

Because they have been familiar with the Internet since childhood, they are accustomed to shopping online.

Another characteristic of this generation is that they are good at gathering information, gathering information from buyer reviews and SNS to consider whether or not to make a purchase.

It is precisely because of this rationalistic way of thinking and behavior that when visiting a brick-and-mortar store, people seek out “experiences” that are superior to “things.”

UX generation thinking is now spreading not only in Japan but all over the world. The impact of these developments will be felt first in the retail industry.

The number of people who simply sell “things” is not enough to buy them, so retailers need to take some measures to meet the needs of the UX generation.

At the extreme, the UX generation wants retail to become a theme park. For example, at a cosmetics store where you can try on the cosmetics they sell, or at a furniture store where you can actually try out the product and see how it feels, you can have valuable experiences that go beyond just buying things.

The UX generation views these experiences as added value and one of the reasons for visiting brick-and-mortar stores.

How to convert the UX generation into customers

When the UX generation goes shopping, they buy things online that don’t need to be rushed, and they look for “special experiences” in brick-and-mortar stores that cannot be experienced online. As mentioned earlier, this trend is becoming common across a wide range of generations, not just in Japan but all over the world.

So, what measures should each company take to turn the UX generation into customers? Let’s focus on and analyze the physical and online stores that are supported by the UX generation.

Real store

Physical stores that are popular among the UX generation generally have the following characteristics.

  • A store where customers can minimize the time and effort it takes from when they want a product to when they get it.
  • A store where visiting the store itself is a form of leisure.

No matter how much shipping time you save, it is impossible to purchase online and receive the product immediately.

In brick-and-mortar stores, where this is possible, shortening the time it takes to purchase and responding to immediate needs such as “I want to use it right away” and “I want it now” becomes a major added value.

Additionally, there is a trend these days to see added value in just going to a store. Physical stores that can offer experiences that cannot be found in online stores, such as holding events exclusive to the store or inviting celebrities, are more likely to gain support from the UX generation.

online shop

Online shopping is convenient these days, but in the past it was common to have to wait several days for delivery. Shipping costs are also not cheap, so it was not uncommon for purchases to be more expensive than at brick-and-mortar stores in exchange for the burden of transportation.

For this reason, services that minimize delivery time and costs, such as Amazon’s same-day delivery and Yodobashi Camera’s free delivery, are now attracting the attention of the UX generation.

They also keep an eye on the precision and accuracy of information, and expect high accuracy from information such as price, arrival date, and user reviews.

When users of online shops, not just those in the UX generation, find inaccurate information, they tend to immediately become distrustful of the online shop.

Fusion of offline and online

No matter how familiar the UX generation is with the Internet, they do not rely on online shops, but rather use both offline physical stores and online online shopping. Especially when it comes to clothing and miscellaneous goods, many users would like to visit a brick-and-mortar store to check the size and texture in person.

The UX generation collects information online and checks the actual product offline, so they don’t waste time and combine what they are good at when shopping.

At brick-and-mortar stores, you can expect impulse purchases, but in recent years we have increasingly come across eye-catching products on social networking sites such as Instagram, and the strength of offline shopping is waning.

For this reason, brick-and-mortar stores are increasingly placing emphasis on disseminating information via the internet and attempting to integrate offline and online.

Examples of initiatives at physical stores

Here we will introduce three examples of physical stores and companies that are working to improve the user experience. Please use this as a reference for measures to convert the UX generation into customers.

The basement of Hankyu Department Store becomes a theater-style department store.

The concept of Hankyu Umeda Main Store is a “theatrical department store”. We are striving to become a department store that delivers a sense of excitement to customers.

For example, we have adopted systems that go beyond just selling “things” and provide fun experiences, such as by arranging open atrium spaces and arranging event spaces throughout.

Although these efforts do not directly result in profits, they can lead to an increase in customer traffic by capturing the hearts of customers and making them want to come back again.

UNIQLO app that delivers real-time store information in real time

Uniqlo, which operates both physical stores and online shops, has released the Uniqlo app to assist customers with their shopping.

The purpose of the UNIQLO app is to suggest products and coordination to potential customers, but what makes it one step better than other shopping assistant apps is that it allows you to check product inventory at physical stores. Thanks to the RFID tags attached to all products in all stores, the app reflects the stock status in real time up to just one hour ago.

Marui has transformed into a store that “doesn’t have to sell”

At Marui, we are moving away from the traditional framework of “selling in stores” and are implementing initiatives that provide a place for experiences and communication that can only be achieved at physical stores. Through this initiative, Marui has transformed from a department store that sells purchased products to a shopping center that earns rent through fixed-term rental contracts.

For example, Machida Marui used to have 70% apparel stores, but by renovating the second floor by making it a dining area and turning it into a shopping center, it transformed itself from a store that sold “goods” to a store that sold “experiences.” I changed.

Initiatives like Machida Marui’s are now spreading to all stores.


In order for retailers to improve user experience, the key is to convert the UX generation, which has been on the rise in recent years, into customers. In order to attract the UX generation, you will need not only the ability to disseminate information, but also the management decision to change the store’s policy at times. Please use the examples introduced here as a reference and consider initiatives unique to your company.


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