The future of fashion? Uniqlo's new shop doesn't actually let you buy anything in store

·Freelance Writer
GU Style Studio enables customers to shop using QR codes and personalised avatars [Photo: Getty]

With #spon brand-influencer partnerships dominating our Instagram feeds and the ability to shop for a whole new wardrobe without having to leave your couch, the way we shop is undoubtedly changing.

Now, Asia’s largest clothing company and Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing Co., has given shoppers a glimpse of the future of high street retail and teased its debut online store – with a twist.

This isn’t an e-commerce site we’re talking about, it’s a bricks and mortar shop where you can only make purchases online.

The new shop, Gu Style Store, will open on Friday in Tokyo’s Harajuku district and will be stocked full of the Japanese label’s colour co-ordinated clothes.

The brand’s novel outlet enables customers to try on clothing for size and place orders online for home delivery – but nothing available’s to buy and take home while in store.

For those shopping in their lunch break and under time pressure, there’s also the option to play around with outfit ideas using a virtual mannequin.

The revolutionary move follows in the footsteps of Zara after the Inditex chain recently opened an online hub in the Westfield Stratford shopping centre.

With self-scan tills, automated online order points and behind-the-scenes robots packing up your beloved deliveries – it’s a sign the global company is moving with the digital era.

Meanwhile, Amazon’s Prime Wardrobe enables customers to order the clothes that have stolen their attention online before charging their card. Shoppers are then allowed to send any unwanted items back.

Shoppers will leave the store empty-handed [Photo: Getty]

“Among large specialty chain retailers, Fast Retailing has one of the most developed digital strategies,” Dairo Murata, an analyst at JP Morgan Securities, told Bloomberg. “They are doing it all in-house, and it allows them to be more competitive.”

Uniqlo joins a number of progressive brands hoping to make profit amid the high street’s struggle by blurring e-commerce and brick-and-mortar shopping.

According to recent figures, those aged between 22 to 37 now make 54 percent of their purchases online and it is estimated that by 2040, 95 percent of purchases will be facilitated by eCommerce.

Uniqlo’s latest store opening comes amid news that the high street is losing its touch with the likes of House of Fraser and New Look closing several stores over the past year.

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