The COVID-19 pandemic has further propelled digitization forward both in Japan and around the world.
The Isetan Mitsukoshi Group is working to provide new customer experiences leveraging advancing digital technologies. During FY2020, the Mitsukoshi Isetan Remote Shopping Application (MIRS) was launched, offering customer service equivalent to in-store service and enabling customers to make purchases, and the Group also made an entry into the world of virtual reality (VR).*1 In VR, we have been taking on challenges, such as i) launching a virtual store (a store in a virtual space free from the constraints of time and space) and ii) selling digital products (products from the department store converted into digital data and sold as products to be worn by avatars*2).
This part overviews the Group’s efforts in VR, with a focus on REV WORLDS, a smartphone app incorporating VR.
*1 Mechanism in which computers are used to create artificial environments that are perceived as if users are actually there.
*2 Graphic representation of a user displayed in a VR world.
In November 2020, we launched the Mitsukoshi Isetan Remote Shopping Application, which enables customers, wherever they are, to purchase products from our brick-and-mortar stores while receiving the same hospitality and customer services from our stylists (store clerks) that they would receive in-store. MIRS is the Group’s proprietary application, and almost all products sold at the Isetan Shinjuku Main Store and the Mitsukoshi Nihombashi Main Store and Ginza Store can be purchased using a smartphone.
Customer service is a core-competence of department stores, and because it can help alleviate customer anxieties about not being able to touch and feel products, we believe it will give us an advantage in online shopping as well.
In November 2021, we launched an online service providing an experience similar to shopping in-store with service by stylists. This has enabled us to offer products such as those on limited-time offers and rare, small-lot items that previously required customers to come to actual stores to see. We can now provide services universally to customers who are busy or have difficulty going out.
MIRS will continue to evolve to provide smooth online shopping experiences.
The Matsuyama Mitsukoshi located in Ehime Prefecture, provides customers in their digital salon, with products that are difficult to offer in-store, by connecting with the Mitsukoshi Nihombashi Main Store and Ginza Store, both in Tokyo.
The sales floor area of Matsuyama Mitsukoshi was significantly reduced when the store was renewed, but the digital salon places customer orders to other stores for products that are unavailable in-store, thus serving to fulfill a broad range of requests and to find solutions to customer inquiries.
In an era when customers can shop online on their own, we believe the reason for requesting real shopping support is the sense of ease of knowing the person serving you from the store you frequent. Our motto is to be as closely attuned as possible to customers when supporting them.
In addition to offering products requested by customers, the digital salon regularly hosts pop-up stores of luxury brand items not available in-store, providing remote customer service while customers view the actual products.
The initiative to connect Tokyo Metropolitan area stores with stores in other areas has also been launched at THE SALON at Niigata Isetan, and is planned to be expanded hereafter. Niigata Isetan Mitsukoshi Ltd. has also connected Niigata Isetan with satellite stores by remote means.
REV WORLDS is an application for accessing a virtual city from anywhere and at any time, developed by the Isetan Mitsukoshi Group.
With this application, customers can not only enjoy the cityscape in VR, but also shop at the Virtual Isetan Shinjuku Main Store. Customers can visit the store with a friend and enjoy communicating with them using the chat function and otherwise connect with people. While doing so, they can experience encounters with unexpected products and new opportunities in the city and the store.
After opening a store in April 2020 in “Virtual Market 4,” one of the world’s largest events held in virtual reality, we linked it with real in-store events, which led to a steady rise in the number of customers. In this way, we are striving to enhance the virtual store content.
Going forward, we are planning for Isetan Mitsukoshi Ltd. to incorporate various facilities and services, in addition to shopping into the virtual city so that we can provide the best customer experiences.