United Arrows Ltd. is well-known fashion retailer in Japan, with more than 250 stores across the country. They are especially popular among young professionals and have collaborated with numerous global fashion brands including New Balance, The North Face, and Dr. Marten’s.
In 2020, we worked with the United Arrows Ltd. on the re-release of their official recruitment website. Here in Japan there is a distinct, rigorous system for recruiting 3rd and 4th year university students to join companies, called “New Graduate” recruitment. It is competitive both for applicants and for companies, who must showcase the benefits of joining their company in a culture where people are likely to stay at the same company for an average of 12 years (WSJ).
We know that the first step to improving a service experience (in this the specific web recruitment experience) is to gain a better understanding of it’s users, so we took a unique approach centered on Service Design to better understand website visitors and bring the United Arrows HR team into the process with us.
In this blog, we interviewed lead Service Designer on the project, Natsuki Nagai, to find out more about the process behind this comprehensive website renewal.
Project Outline : United Arrows Ltd. Recruitment Site Renewal
The primary goal of this project was the complete renewal of the United Arrows recruitment website. Neuromagic joined as a HR strategy partner with the United Arrows HR team.
Neuromagic was responsible for research, concept formulation, implementation, UI/UX improvements and expansion of site content.
The primary concerns were:
- Although the brand image of the store is well established, UNITED ARROWS as a “place of employment” has not been communicated well job seekers.
- Desire to increase the number of people who aspire to join the fashion industry from other (seemingly) unrelated industries, that can lead the future of the business.
To tackle these issues, we took surveys and ran workshops with United Arrows to help clarify the current situation and come to consensus on target users.
Survey Research ー Use Data to Clarify the Issue
What were the highlights of running the surveys?
Natsuki：Using the survey data we were able to confirm the worries of our client— that students can’t really imagine working at United Arrows. The research also showed us that the customer experience when you go to the store really shaped the image of the company.
The survey also gave us a fairly clear idea of the image students have in their mind of United Arrows. When creating the website, this really helped us to create a common understanding with the client about the strong points we should highlight in the content.
What are some specific discoveries you made through survey research?
Natsuki：When creating the questionnaire, I wanted to know more about the personality and behavior of students who work in apparel, so I included survey questions that would help to grasp those trends. In the results, we were able to see their level of enthusiasm about job hunting, how they evaluate themselves, and differences in opinion based on statistics like gender.
There’s plenty of articles online that analyze Millennials and Generation Z, but this survey allowed us to make our own discoveries and remove strange preconceptions and stereotypes that we tend to have when discussing the needs of a younger generation.
Workshop ー Clarifying the Target Audience
What were some of the highlights of the workshop?
Natsuki：The United Arrows members who joined us in the co-creation workshop are experts who often interact face-to-face with students. By working with them, the current situation of job hunting students became clearer.
It was great to be able to combine the survey data with the image the HR team had from their actual experience interacting with students.
Who did you create a persona of?
Natsuki：We created the persona of their future ideal job candidate. Before deciding our approach to the website content and design, it was important to make this target image clear to everyone first.
Did you discover anything interesting while creating the Customer Journey Map?
Natsuki：While creating the customer journey map we realized that while job hunters went on interviews, they were often anxious and unsure about their field of interest and abilities.
Through the survey we found that many students started internships while job hunting either because they were feeling impatient to join the workforce or lost about their careers. Because of this, while creating the customer journey map, we figured out roughly which points in their job hunting process students felt lost and what concerns they faced.
Being able, even slightly, to alleviate the impatience and worry facing students was very important to the final website production. We were able to do that with insight from our client experience and the survey data.
Creating the Website ー Using Research to Select Content
How were the results from research and workshops used in the final site creation?
Natsuki：We were able to verify that job hunting students place importance on information like:
1. job type, job content, what kind of people are working at the company
2. welfare programs
So, we decided to present the information accordingly.
How did you choose to share information regarding the work environment/current employees?
Natsuki：Even when we first proposed site renewal, we immediately had a discussion saying “it’s better to see a concrete employee path, so let’s add an employee interview.”
Although it is standard content, the surveys and workshops gave us a better understanding of students worries, and we were able to use this to shape the content of the employee interviews we created.
Co-Creation with the Client
Is there anything else you think the service design approach contributed to site production?
Natsuki：We had the opportunity to co-create with the client by examining the data and building an image of the user together. I think the ability to involve people from various positions, who are knowledgable in service design, guaranteed the speed of site creation.
And although we joined this project with the job of “site production” we really undertook the work with the mindset of becoming “recruitment partners.”
In reality, service design doesn’t focus on a single website, or any single touchpoint— but also pamphlets, handouts, seminars, interviews, internal communication— it’s about gaining a bird’s eye view of an entire service.
Because that is the nature of service design and what we do, I think the information we gathered can be useful for our clients in other realms as well.
Any final thoughts or highlights from this project?
Natsuki：When I was in college I worked part-time in apparel. Through that experience I know how tough and how valuable that job is. Despite that, the social status in Japan remains low because it is customer service based and the public is not aware of the various work going on behinds the scenes…
I also happen to love United Arrows clothing and often went there as a customer. Though I had come to know some employees, no matter who it was that assisted me in any United Arrows store, I always was left uplifted and thinking “I’ll try my best again tomorrow!”
So I am very happy if we were able to convey the appeal of United Arrows, and the meaning and social value of working at an apparel company to as many job seekers as possible.
If you’d like to learn more about this case study, please feel free to check out the case study on our website (Japanese only)：https://www.neuromagic.com/works/0019/
Service Design Intern
Shin is a university student in China, majoring in international journalism. She has experience in writing, video editing, and news account management and is currently studying service and context design. Raised in Japan, Shin is bilingual in Mandarin and Japanese.