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The Strict Stipulations Behind Takashimaya's Top-Notch Service

Along with a slew of foreign brands and mouthwatering Japanese pastries, Saigon’s new Takashimaya department store has also brought its unique brand of hospitality to the southern hub in hopes of wowing local shoppers.

A few weeks ago, Japanese retailer Takashimaya became the talk of the town when it unveiled a joint commercial complex in conjunction with Saigon Center. Located at the intersection of Nam Ky Khoi Nghia and Le Loi, the mall is home to some 400 local and international brands.

At a glance, Takashimaya might appear similar to other existing shopping malls in the city, but behind the scenes, its employees are required to follow a strict set of guidelines governing how they interact with customers, reports Nikkei Asian Review.

It’s not a rare sight to come across a shopkeeper in Vietnam perusing their phone during a shift. However, that is not the case at Takashimaya as all employees are banned from using smartphones while working. During the store’s early training phase, the restriction initially faced opposition from a Vietnamese employee education official, who eventually yielded after a visit to a Takashimaya store in Japan.

Moreover, Takashimaya’s employees are also properly trained in the distinctive Japanese art of bowing. According to the news source, it’s more complicated than meets the eyes: in tandem with saying “welcome” or “thank you”, employees place one hand on top of another in front of their bellybutton and perform a 30-degree bow; for normal, wordless greetings, the angle is instead 15 degrees. While bowing, employees focus their gaze at a spot on the floor two meters in front of the customer and must not look them in the eye.

Apart from implementing rules dictating how its employees behave, the Japanese mall also put in more subtle touches in store operation and design to win over customers. Goods purchased at Takashimaya are wrapped as gifts, and shop aisles are designed to be 2.4 meters wide on average compared to the standard 1.5 meters in Vietnam’s existing commercial complexes.

All told, it seems Takashimaya’s management is not holding anything back as it strives to capture the hearts – and wallets – of Vietnamese shoppers. It’s not a surprise since the Japanese retailer channeled some US$58.6 million into establishing the department store, especially at a time when most department stores in Vietnam, like South Korea’s Lotte or Malaysia’s Parkson, are struggling to make ends meet.

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