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Walgreens Boots Alliance launches flagship store on Tmall Global to sell own label beauty brands to Chinese consumers

By Paul Skeldon September 27, 2018 - 10:14 am

Walgreens Boots Alliance joins the throng of European beauty and health retailers targeting China, with the opening of a Boots flagship store on Tmall Global, Alibaba’s B2C platform for international brands and retailers.

The new Boots flagship Tmall Global store gives some half a billion Chinese consumers access to some of the most popular Boots beauty brands in the UK and the US, initially No7, Soap & Glory and Boots Cucumber, reflecting the Chinese consumers’ increasing sophistication and appetite for high-quality, international beauty brands.

Alibaba’s Tmall Global platform is China’s largest B2C marketplace for both Chinese and international brands and retailers, providing a premium shopping experience for China’s consumers. Launched in 2014, Tmall Global is Alibaba’s dedicated channel for cross-border e-commerce. It is one of the largest and most comprehensive cross-border B2C online marketplaces, and allows brands and retailers without operations in China to build virtual storefronts and ship products into the country.

“We are truly excited to be launching our online flagship store in China exclusively on Tmall Global. This is a great opportunity for us to increase the internationalization of our products and to utilize the many innovative technologies that Alibaba has developed. At the same time, our collaboration with Tmall Global complements our presence in wholesale and retail pharmacy in China with a new, fantastic channel, through which we can distribute our beauty brands in a market with almost endless possibilities. Today’s announcement is the first step on a path we believe offers both of us incredible potential for the future.”
– Ken Murphy, Executive Vice President, WBA and Chief Commercial Officer and President of Global Brands

The beauty and cosmetics sector in China has been registering impressive growth rates. Data from Euromonitor reveals that total retail sales of skincare products and make-up products in China reached RMB186.7 billion and RMB34.4 billion (US$27.26 billion and US$5.02 billion), respectively, in 2017, achieving year-on-year growth of more than 10% and 21%.

More broadly, online retail sales in China passed the US$1 trillion mark for the first time in 2017, making China the world’s leading e-commerce market, according to figures from the China Ministry of Commerce.

These figures are backed up by the number of European and US brands and retailers tapping into the Chinese market through Tmall and its arch-rival, JD.com. Already this week, French beauty care brand L’Occitane de Provence has launched a store on JD.com, while numerous fashion brands have also started to use the marketplaces to open in China. Zara sibling Uterque joins a host of Spanish brands now using Tmall to reach into China – in this instance testing the water and growing its base before opening physical stores – while Abercrombie & Fitch celebrates a year on the same Chinese marketplace with physical retail event that showcases just how online and in-store can work together to great effect.

Meanwhile, Italian luxury brand Rinascente is increasing its online presence by rolling out its ‘retail concierge’ service currently found on WhatsApp to WeChat to increase its consumer penetration in the region.

The move signals improved trade relations between the UK, Europe and China – as Sino-US trade relations hit a wall – and also provides an inkling as to how some brands on both sides of the Channel are looking to trade post-Brexit.

Image: Boots

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