Fast Retailing teams up with Google to power Ariake project

Uniqlo owner Fast Retailing has unveiled a partnership with Google Cloud’s new Advanced Solutions Lab in Tokyo to translate customer desires into products and services faster.

This was announced by the companies as part of a number of sweeping initiatives to help the Japanese clothing retailer sell more. Google and Fast Retailing have been working on the project called Ariake since 2017 as part of the brand’s ambition to become a ‘digital consumer retail company’.

The partnership will see Fast Retailing embrace Google’s Advanced Solutions Lab and G Suite to better understand what customers want and forecast demand. The goal is to move away from a strategy of "make it and they will come" towards one that turns customer feedback into real products.

Fast Retailing is so committed to this new approach it is even opening a new 16,500-square-foot open-plan office at its Tokyo headquarters where small, flat teams will be able to communicate closely across departments and rapidly make decisions and implement ideas. All employees will be migrated to G Suite to make it easier to share information and ideas.

“Making information accessible to all our employees is one of the foundations of the Ariake project, because it empowers them to use human traits like logic, judgment, and empathy to make decisions,” said Tadashi Yanai, CEO of Fast Retailing.

“We write business plans every season, and we use collaborative tools like G Suite make sure they’re available to all. Our work with Google Cloud has gone well beyond demand forecasting; it’s fundamentally changed the way we work together.”

Other components of the Ariake project include working on achieving closer communication with partner factories to create a flexible manufacturing structure, the creation of a speedy, highly efficient distribution system, and expanded online services.

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