Watsons China CEO says new cloud-based stores ‘break the limits of space and time’

By Amanda Lim contact

- Last updated on GMT

Watsons is launching cloud-based stores in China this quarter. ©A.S. Watson
Watsons is launching cloud-based stores in China this quarter. ©A.S. Watson

Related tags: as watson, China, e-commerce

Health and beauty retailer Watsons is launching cloud-based stores in China this quarter to refine the ‘round-the-clock’ shopping experience for consumers.

Watsons China has been working closely with Chinese tech firm Tencent to launch the cloud stores on its WeChat Work platform.

Kulvinder Birring, CEO of Watsons China, explained to CosmeticsDesign-Asia​ that cloud stores were completely different from the retailer’s online stores.

“Compared to the conventional online stores, each Watsons China cloud store has a corresponding physical store, which enables customers to try the products before making the purchasing decision,”​ said Birring.

He elaborated that with cloud stores, each physical store could function as a warehouse and provide consumers with faster delivery compared to shopping on an e-commerce website.

“With cloud stores, we break the limits of space and time to fulfil the customers’ shopping needs whenever and wherever they are, and with whatever Watsons products they want.”

The retailer offers three delivery options – Click & Deliver in 1 hour, Click & Collect in 30 mins and Click & Express – to make the shopping experiences as quick and convenient for the shopper.

“It’s truly the integration of online and offline platforms, leveraging the digital system to unleash the offline store and store staff’s potential rather than an isolated online store,”​ said Birring.

New levels of personalisation

He added that its cloud stores offered a higher level of personalisation because of the integration of WeChat Work.

This “ground-breaking communication channel” will allow consumers to add store staff as friends on WeChat and get personalised beauty recommendations and advice from them via the mobile application.

If they wish, consumers will then be able to order products via the Cloud store system.

“With WeChat Work, we can directly connect millions of our customers and provide them with more personalised services and recommendation. Instead of talking to a customer service staff or a robot as conventional online store does, our customers can directly connect with our store beauty advisors and ask for personalised advice,” ​said Birring.

Ellen Shen, store manager of Wanda Plaza Watsons store in Zhengzhou said the response to the new communication service has been well-received by consumers.

“WeChat Work helps us nurture a closer relationship with our customers… Since its launch, we’ve received very positive response from customers who have added us as friends to enjoy this one-to-one service.”

Meet Wilson

While the human touch is important, the company is also leveraging the abilities of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to make its WeChat Work platform available 24/7.

When beauty advisors are not available, consumers can engage with AI chatbot and ‘virtual spokesperson’, Wilson via WeChat Work for personalised advice.

Birring noted that the company saw huge potential in social commerce model and will continue to see how it can further improve the shopping experience.

“We see lots of opportunities in social commerce and we will also continue to explore different forms of commerce to give customers pleasant shopping experience.”

He added that exploring new dimensions of retail and personalisation was key in helping Watsons retain its consumers and appeal to new once.

“With big data technology, these social commerce platforms add another dimension to our relationship with customers, enabling us to connect and interact with them, and ultimately become the most loved brand of our customers.”

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