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AS Watson global online sales soar – but consumers eager to return to stores

Despite covid, shoppers are eager to return to stores, AS Watson survey finds.

Consumers are eager to get back to retail stores and have human connections again once the coronavirus pandemic is resolved, according to research from AS Watson.

The health-and-beauty retailer quizzed to more than 22,000 consumers across more than 20 markets throughout Asia and Europe.

The survey was made against the backdrop of AS Watson’s e-commerce growth of more than 90 per cent within this year’s second financial quarter, with the expectations that consumers are likely to continue shopping online following the pandemic. While the same percentage of respondents did confirm an intention to stick with e-commerce, an unexpected 100 per cent of respondents said they will still go back to physical stores for shopping. One third said they will shop in stores more often.

“While the pandemic accelerated e-commerce growth and technological developments, the crisis has underlined customers’ desire for human connections, and for the future of retail, these bonds will become even more important,” said AS Watson Group COO Malina Ngai. “AS Watson has been working to build retail brands that have a lasting, close relationship with our customers while also offering a seamless online and offline experience alongside industry leading technology. These technologies are designed to enhance the experience, but they can never replace an exceptional, quality service, strong relationships and personal connections with our customers.”

The survey revealed that in the Mainland Chinese market, Gen Z now has the greatest spending power with spending reaching the equivalent of US$585 billion, representing 13 per cent of national household consumption. Research on beauty trends in the territory revealed that customers not only pay attention to the efficacy and quality of skincare and makeup products but also the ingredients, with distinct correlations between sensitive skin, climate and lifestyle. According to the firm, these insights present opportunities for international health and beauty suppliers to target Mainland Chinese customers with more precise product development plans.

“As AS Watson enters the new normal, we need to rethink our strategies and approaches to meet and adapt to the changing demands of our customers,” said Ngai. “Our insights show that in addition to seamless online and offline shopping experiences, customers are more emotionally demanding for relevance and care.

“As we continue to be the most-loved brands of our customers, we have to innovate the way we operate to be more personal with the service we offer in store and further enhance online personalisation through cutting-edge technology”.

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