Watson's launches online shopping portal

The Watson's chain launches an Internet site today that will allow customers to buy many of its products online.

The site will offer 30 per cent to 40 per cent of store offerings, with the number of products to be increased over time.

It will also offer products exclusive to the site and not available in stores.

Customers will be able to pick up purchases at 50 of the more than 100 Watson's stores around Singapore.

General manager Daniel Teo told The Straits Times recently: "We want to give existing customers more convenience. Singaporeans have busy schedules and we should make it easy for them to keep in touch and shop with us."

While Watson's direct rivals do not have online stores, some of their sister supermarket chains - like Cold Storage and FairPrice - do.

Mr Teo added that sales revenue across its health and beauty segments rose by a high single-digit percentage last year, almost double that of its direct competitors.

The online portal is just one of the company's initiatives to improve customer service.

In April, it revamped its senior citizens programme, which now offers 10 per cent off health products, up from 5 per cent previously, and a 5 per cent discount on all other products.

"Some of our senior citizen customers may not be as well-to-do. As a health and beauty store, it's not right if we don't give back to the people who need it," said Mr Teo.

It is also partnering Fullerton Healthcare Group on a series of workshops for the elderly, covering topics such as nutrition and eczema. These will start later this year.

Mr Teo said the company has grown to a stage where it is no longer a retailer purely offering off-the-rack health products.

It has about 38 stores with a pharmacist, and is in discussion with a polytechnic to set up an internship programme that will place budding pharmacists in Watson's stores.

Mr Teo noted that the company's cosmetics segment accounts for about 70 per cent of the market share here, above other personal care shops, hypermarkets, supermarkets and convenience stores.

He said Watson's keeps its competitive edge through its exclusive products, which account for almost 20 per cent of all sales.

These include brands such as Clio, the No. 1 eyeliner pencil brand in South Korea, and hair care brands Marc Anthony and Ma Cherie.

"We spare no expense in going outside Singapore to bring in brands, rather than wait for them to come... Our (A.S. Watson Group's) head office in Hong Kong also helps in sourcing," he added.

The average consumer spending at the chain grew by almost 10 per cent last year, while its loyalty programme has more than 700,000 members.

Its five-year-old Facebook page is said to be the 13th largest Facebook community here, according to a survey by Social Baker.

"It's a good platform to reach out to customers and find out what they want, what they don't like," said Mr Teo.


This article was first published on Sept 09, 2014.
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