A.S. Watson Group (ASW), the largest international health and beauty retailer in Asia and Europe, announces its global eCommerce businesses delivered a 47% increase in health and beauty sales in 2016.
In May 2014, the Group announced plans to accelerate its digital and CRM strategy with an initial investment of USD60m. This investment has been channeled into attracting digital talent to its in-house digital studio eLab which was established two years ago, improving the mobile customer experience, rolling-out mobile apps, integrating social into the total customer experience, improving content, and expanding click and collect in most countries. Digital now plays a vital part supporting ASW’s brick-and-mortar business model which spans over 13,300 stores in 25 markets. Meanwhile, loyalty members have grown to 120 million.
Malina Ngai, Chief Operating Officer of A.S. Watson Group, said, “What’s encouraging for us is that we are not only seeing high online sales growth but also seeing increased footfall in our stores combined with a high annual spend from our loyalty card customers who shop with us both offline and online. ”
Digital Unit eLab Turns Two
Supporting all its eCommerce businesses, eLab, ASW’s in-house digital studio, was launched two years ago and now employs over 200 people in Hong Kong, London and Milan. eLab in Asia has further expanded its team to support the accelerated development of eCommerce in the region. In 2016, over two million smartphone app downloads were recorded. 15 eCommerce channels have been launched in the past two years in Asia, contributing to strong transaction growth at over 72% in 2016.
In Europe, eLab is expanding the team in Milan’s fashionable Tortona, which develops and executes eCommerce strategies, and delivers digital content across the Group. This year the London office will expand with an in-house studio to create even more digital content at a faster pace for ASW businesses.
New Game Plan to Win Customers
In Asia, ASW delivered health and beauty eCommerce sales growth of 69% in 2016 driven by driven by good participation from its loyalty programmes – 48 million loyalty card customers engaged with ASW eCommerce channels in 2016. In Hong Kong, the health category grew by 70% in 2016, so to capture this opportunity in other territories, eLab has launched and upgraded the health elements of its other eCommerce sites to offer more choice in health and wellbeing products.
eCommerce businesses in Europe delivered a 42% sales increase in 2016 with cosmetics up 63% and all categories of fragrance, toiletries, skincare and health performing well too. Highlights from the year in Europe include Black Friday which saw sales up over 103% with four orders processed every five seconds.
Malina Ngai, Chief Operating Officer of A.S. Watson Group, said, “After 12 months of setting up eLab, we were successful in attracting more digital talent. Whilst retail may not be the usual target for young digital talent to develop their career, once they joined ASW, they were engaged by the fun, agile, energetic and innovative eLab working environment enabling them to bring their talents into full play as well as gain international exposure.”
“With this talent now in place, we have high expectations that through the eLab team we will be able to drive our customer strategy DARE – to be Different, Anywhere, build Relationships and offer unique Experiences to customers. We will continue to strive for technological innovation such as product search by image and cognitive computing which are essential to being close to customers and meeting their fast-changing expectations. To stay ahead of the market, we keep harnessing technological developments to create a personalised and pleasurable online shopping experience for customers, and drive seamless integration with the ASW store network.”