The question Uniqlo faces now is whether it can inherit the Gap’s empire without repeating its mistakes. To do so, it will have to convince shoppers across the country of a proposition that’s radical for the industry: Fashion can be affordable without being disposable.
Despite the underwhelming performance of Uniqlo’s American stores thus far, the company’s operating income outside of Japan grew by more than 62 percent year-over-year in 2018, while revenue grew slightly more than 25 percent. From its urban outposts, Uniqlo can slowly upend American ideas about the interplay between quality, style, and status—one basic button-down at a time.
Source: Why Urban Millennials Love Uniqlo
But when the robots were put in place, things went wrong. The concierge struggled to answer guests’ questions. The dancers in the lobby broke down. The luggage-carriers could not climb stairs or go outside. A question-and-answer robot could not handle anything beyond basic inquiries—and responded to at least one guest’s snoring by waking him repeatedly to tell him it could not understand what he was saying. Rather than saving labour, the robots actually required the hotel to increase staffing in order to assist and repair the struggling robots. So the hotel recently decided to lay off more than half of its 243 robots.
Hotel robots bad. But, from the same “newspaper,” as they say, turns out robots are good for coffee and burger production:
Gavin pathross likes his Americano at a particular strength, with exactly 2.8 shots of espresso, an order that human baristas struggle to get right. But the baristas at Ratio, his new coffee shop in Shanghai, are anything but human. Customers specify, order and pay for their coffee via their smartphones. A robot arm then grinds the beans, pumps shots of espresso and carries out the rest of the work. The robot can supply water and coffee in any ratio desired—hence the shop’s name. Once it has prepared the beverage, it passes the finished product to a human waiter for serving.