Jen and Wordy, a DJ who played at our Gap China debut.
Hello, my name is Jen Gee and I support employee communications internationally at Gap Inc. Last week, we marked the first year of Gap’s foray into mainland China, something I was around to see first-hand.
I remember how excited all our new employees were as they learned about Gap’s heritage and what a cool brand they had joined. It was pretty intense in those last days leading up to the openings … and exhilarating to be there when the doors opened for the first time. I even got a picture of myself with DJ Wordy (a real hip dude!) when he played for our launch party.
Taking a moment to reflect as we celebrated our first birthday in China, I asked a couple of our China store leaders—Ann Liao, an area manager in Shanghai, and May Zhang, district manager for the Beijing stores—about their experiences over the last year.
What’s your take on Gap China’s first year?
Ann: I still remember clearly the day we opened our first store in China in Hong Kong Plaza, Shanghai—the countdown, rope cutting and our happy voices still echoes in my ears. Time flies… our Gap LED light as already blended seamlessly into the Shanghai night scene, so vivid, vibrant and stunningly beautiful.
Gap has brought to this market not only high-quality products demonstrating the American casual wear culture, but also a great customer shopping experience. Gap has established the new benchmark for service and seems to have even pressed our competitors to shift their strategies.
What have you heard most from customers?
Ann: Gap China has many loyal customers. I have met many customers who became our followers when they were still kids. They bought our products in other countries before we even came to China. They are very happy that we are here. They like our products, our brand and they appreciate our services and wish we can maintain that level of service for years to come.
May: There has been a lot of positive feed back about our Kids and Baby product. From the safety and care of the product to the style, color, and graphics—all of this is favored by parents and grandparents. Chinese kids are very much cared in the family and parents invest a lot of money in them!
Chinese customers are very much following the seasonal trends. Some of our fashion products fly out of stores quickly. They also have a high demand for customer service while shopping. We’ll have to work to keep up our customer service as we go to new cities.
What are you most excited about as Gap goes into its second year?
May: That Gap China will expand quickly. And with the expansion, there will be more and more people working and growing with Gap.
There will be lots of opportunities for the team to step into new positions and learn in their new career – just like I have. We are from different cities, but our goal, as our marketing campaign says, is let’s GAP together!
IMAGES below are, in order, Ann; May; a Shanghai store team; a Beijing store team; and Gap China's LED spectacular!