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Watsons Taiwan launches online "cosmeceuticals" venture

Watsons goes solo to launch proprietary "clicks and mortar" cosmetics and pharmaceuticals portal.

Photo: Watsons computerised ‘cosmeceutical’ store.
Watsons computerised 'cosmeceutical' store.

As with much of the rest of the world, the ubiquity of smartphones and tablets is starting to have a major impact on the shopping habits of Taiwanese consumers. This has seen shopping online become the first port of call in many purchase situations, triggering a huge growth in the territory's e-commerce platforms.

With this opportunity clearly in mind, Watsons Taiwan (part of the A.S. Watson Group and a subsidiary of Hong Kong's Hutchison Whampoa Limited) has launched its own dedicated online store. This e-commerce platform first went online in early April, establishing itself as the first proprietary 'cosmeceuticals' [a combination of 'pharmaceuticals' and 'cosmetics'] e-commerce platform in Taiwan.

According to industry statistics, Taiwan's online cosmeceuticals market is worth around NT$36 billion (US$1.2 billion) a year, with sales showing steady year-on-year growth. It is this growing market that Watsons – which already runs 471 physical stores across the island – is keen to capitalise on.

This latest move actually represents Watsons' second foray into the island's online sector. Three years ago, the company launched a collaborative venture in association with the Yahoo! Kimo Super Mall. This latest move, though, sees Watsons operating independently, while also adopting the "clicks and mortar" [ordering online, but with the option of paying/collecting in-store] business model.

Under the terms of its latest venture, consumers shopping at Watsons' online store are entitled to free delivery for every purchase amounting to NT$450 (US$15) or more, while also having access to exclusive online products. Additionally, customers who are also Watsons Taiwan's iMembers can benefit from a "next day" speedy delivery option.

In terms of payment methods, aside from online payment by credit card and iMember cash dollars, shoppers can also pay at over 1,000 convenience stores across Taiwan. In addition to door-to-door postal deliveries, Watsons' online customers can also choose to collect their purchases at convenience stores across Taiwan, including FamilyMart, OK Mart and Hi-Life and Watsons' own outlets.

Tammy Hsieh, Taiwan Office

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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