Digital push: Sa Sa International strengthens online efforts to brace against tough market conditions

By Amanda Lim

- Last updated on GMT

Sa Sa International is placing more attention on its online channels. ©Sa sa International
Sa Sa International is placing more attention on its online channels. ©Sa sa International

Related tags ecommerce digital Hong kong China

Hong Kong-based cosmetics retailer Sa Sa International is placing more attention on its online channels in order to help the company reduce cost and make up for it battered brick-and-mortar outlets.

The retailer announced on July 13 that its first-quarter sales from 1 April to June 30 decreased by 67.9% year-on-year, following a string of consecutive quarterly losses for the company.

Against the uncertain global market outlook brought about by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) health crisis, the company has put in place certain strategies to return to profitability.

“Global markets are still full of uncertainty and our top priority is to manage our working capital and costs and to arrive at a leaner and more variable cost structure and a lower breakeven point,” ​said Dr Guy Look, CFO and executive director.

One of the strategies is to reinforce its digital capabilities and expanding further into e-commerce.

In the firm’s last financial year, the sales contribution of third-party platforms increased to 70%.

Look said the company sees e-commerce as “a key element of our group’s diversification drive”.

In April this year, the company shuttered its official online store and mobile application and began working with third-party online retailers.

In 2017, the company launched its online flagship store on Alibaba’s Tmall to broaden its consumer base in China. Additionally, the company also serves China through and Koala.

Sa Sa serves the South East Asian region primarily through e-commerce platform Shopee.

In February, the retailer made its flagship debut on the online SEA website after exiting the Singapore market with the closure of all its bricks and mortar stores in 2019.

The company is planning to tap into more countries in Southeast Asia through Shopee.

Today, these platforms are the firm’s main sales contributors and main touchpoints for consumers

Reaching out to consumers

Recently, the company has also been dabbling in social commerce by setting up shop on platforms such as China’s social ecosystem, WeChat.

Sa Sa’s WeChat mini-programme has proven to be a successful platform for the company, even allowing it to continue serving consumers in China when the number of mainland tourists visiting Hong Kong and Macau fell.

“We're tapping into the increasing popularity of social commerce starting with WeChat enabled app to target mainland customers and other social media platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook to target consumers here in Hong Kong,” ​said Look.

Expanding on this, the company has begun to broadcast live streaming sessions and plans to expand them through more channels in the future.

The company sees such channels as a ‘second nature’​ and an extension of its physical stores, said Look.

“Social commerce offers a promising future they are like an online extension of physical stores with personal interactive services.Our beauty consultants are also provided extra touchpoints to conduct business and make up for the loss of sales at our physical stores.”

Look added that the advantages these channels would allow the company to foster closer customer relationship, increase repeat purchase rates, get larger basket sizes, and offer more selective products.

It disclosed that it will be teaming up with a local vendor in Hong Kong to conduct live streaming sessions for its home market.

Additionally, the company said it would provide training and coordination support for beauty consultants to optimise effectiveness.

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