Danish variety store, Tiger, had recently opened up its first store in Osaka, Japan, in the shopping area known as American Village. Little did they know about the propensities of the Japanese shopper.

Or maybe they just didn’t give them enough credit. In this case, it was the intensity of Japanese shoppers that resulted in the store having to unexpectedly shut down. Despite having the experience of managing stores in 16 different countries, Tiger underestimated the insatiable drive of Japanese people to shop, even if it meant queueing in line for hours and hours.

All this trouble for the European answer to the 100 yen shop...

One morning, even before the doors opened, there was already a long line extending 200 meters, a line that never shrunk due to a continuous flow of eager customers. The store itself has a unique set-up: instead of walking around and browsing freely, customers follow a predecided path through the store, ultimately ending up at the checkout. The check-out line backed up so quickly and so badly that customers who’d just entered were basically immediately standing in another line behind other customers.

Opening day saw over 1000 customers who took 2 hours just to get in the store, and about an hour from there to pay and get out. The exact same thing happened on the second and third days also. WTF was happening? It was primarily the raw number of customers. The store staff thought they’d prepared, knowing that there had been pre-opening PR and other hype, but their estimates were short by about half.

Another mis-estimate was of how much each customer would buy. The customers were purchasing about twice the amount of European customers. This completely tied up the measly 4 cashiers. To make matters worse, certain shelves were quickly stripped bare and staff scrambled to re-stock. They hadn’t known what products were going to be popular in Japan and they had intended to play it by ear, but alas. They decided to close down the store on the third day after opening, saying they didn’t want customers walking around a barren, shabby-looking store. During this 2-day downtime they added cash registers, staff, and emergency-ordered stock from warehouses in Shanghai. Tiger’s CEO, who was in town for the event, reportedly went home in shock and awe, muttering, “But it looks like such a small, unassuming country…”.

Source: Business Media