A.S. Watson delivers 47% growth in global online sales in 2016

International health and beauty retailer A.S. Watson Group (ASW) announced that its global e-commerce businesses delivered a 47% increase in health and beauty sales in 2016.

The group referred its success with plans it made in May 2014 to accelerate its digital and CRM strategy with an initial investment of US$60 million. The investment has been channelled into attracting digital talent to its in-house digital studio eLab which was established two years ago.

The digital studio has recorded over two million smartphone app downloads in 2016. Its 15 e-commerce channels launched in the past two years in Asia also contributed to strong transaction growth at over 72% in 2016.

"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," said the group in a statement.

ASW added that 48 million loyalty card customers engaged with ASW e-commerce channels in 2016. The participation in its loyalty programmes drove a health and beauty e-commerce sales growth of 69% in Asia in 2016.

In Hong Kong, the health category grew by 70% in 2016. eLab has launched and upgraded the health elements of its other e-commerce sites to offer more choice in health and well-being products so to capture this opportunity in other territories, the company said.

E-commerce 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. Highlights from the year in Europe include Black Friday which saw sales up over 103%, with four orders processed every five seconds.

"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," said Malina Ngai, chief operating officer of A.S. Watson Group.

eLab is currently expanding the team in Milan’s Tortona, which develops and executes e-commerce 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.