Health & Beauty AS Watson Recruits Partners For Digital Transformation

Lisa Byfield-Green (Senior Retail Analyst)
15 December 2017
AS Watson aims to complement the efforts it is making instore with increased online and digital differentiation.
Superdrug
AS Watson aims to complement the efforts it is making instore with increased online and digital differentiation.

AS Watson has launched its first ever technology partnership programme, with the aim of building a network of expert partners to support the acceleration of its digital transformation. The company, which operates leading health & beauty chains including Superdrug, Savers, Kruidvat and Trekpleister in Europe, said that it recognised that customers were changing rapidly and that technology had become “an ever more critical ingredient” to deliver its strategy.

Tech partners appointed to work with AS Watson include Microsoft, EPAM, Ovolab, Rubikloud, Mtel and UST Global. All companies will gain access to AS Watson’s senior management, visibility of the company’s growth strategy and technology roadmap.

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Lisa Byfield-Green (Senior Retail Analyst)
Lisa Byfield-Green (Senior Retail Analyst)

Opinion Digital Differentiation

15 December 2017

Health & beauty retailing is becoming more sophisticated. Competition is growing, shoppers are increasingly searching for inspiration online before making a purchase and the e-commerce channel is developing rapidly. Last year AS Watson delivered a 42% increase in online sales across Europe, including a 63% jump in online sales of cosmetics. Meanwhile in Asia, the company’s online sales were up 69% in 2016.

Online is a growing channel for AS Watson in Europe and digital experiences will also help to grow offline sales.
LZ Retailytics
Online is a growing channel for AS Watson in Europe and digital experiences will also help to grow offline sales.

Technology is also a clear differentiator for companies in terms of innovation, inspiration and the efficiency of its operations. AS Watson is not the only company to establish long-term partnerships, John Lewis in the UK for instance fosters innovation from small tech start-ups to influence its business through its JLAB programme. For AS Watson, the functionality that these established partnerships bring to the company extend across its operations and include expertise in employee collaboration, big data and digital experiences, compelling apps, mobile innovation, machine learning and flexible big data architecture.

These new partnerships will complement the effort that AS Watson has already put into its eLab over the past two years, employing over 200 people in Hong Kong, London and Milan to support its e-commerce business. This team aims to create a “personalised and pleasurable” online shopping experience for customers, whilst integrating e-commerce seamlessly into the store network. Almost all of AS Watson’s banners across Europe and Asia now offer sales through the channel and it is becoming a core growth driver for the business as a whole. Superdrug in the UK leads the way, where it is utilising its site to sell its full range of items and also to service the whole of Ireland where there are to date just six stores. It is highly active in digital and the website includes blogs and vlogs to provide inspiration to customers.

This latest commitment to its technology roadmap gives AS Watson a strong future vision to ensure it will continue to innovate and stay ahead of the competition. We can expect some exciting developments in the coming months and years as the retailer, despite its huge size, shows itself to be future focused and agile.

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