Chemist Warehouse is opening its first bricks-and-mortar store and launching on a new online marketplace in China, as cross-border demand for its beauty and mum-and-bubs products continues to drive strong sales growth.
“It is an [online-to-offline] self-pick-up store where customers can actually shop in the store, like a real Chemist Warehouse shopping experience,” Chemist Warehouse chief operating officer Nancy Jian told Inside Retail.
“This will be a pilot store, and we hope to be able to replicate this in other cities of China as well once we get everything right.”
Chemist Warehouse is the number one cross-border retailer on Alibaba’s Tmall Global site, after initially partnering with the marketplace in 2015.
Year-on-year sales for Chemist Warehouse’s flagship store on Tmall grew at a rate of 52 per cent, with the main growth coming from its beauty and mum-and-bubs categories.
Alibaba Australia and New Zealand managing director Maggie Zhou recently told Inside Retail this was due a perception of Australia by the Chinese consumer as clean and natural.
“For things to eat, to drink, to use on your skin, [Australian products] are really well thought of by the Chinese consumer,” Zhou said.
The pharmacy retailer also is expanding from Alibaba’s Tmall platform to Alibaba’s Kaola marketplace, a cross-border platform that focuses solely on Western brands.
It will be the first brand to make the jump since Alibaba acquired Kaola earlier this year.
Chemist Warehouse also will open a store on Alibaba’s Lazada marketplace to extend into the Malaysian and Singaporean markets, as part of a renewed strategic partnership with Alibaba.
“The exciting part for us is to continue growing our cross-border business, not only in China but hopefully soon in South-East Asia,” Jian said.
The agreement serves to provide easier market access and support for a number of smaller and medium brands.
Chemist Warehouse opened its first store on Tmall Global in 2015, and became the first cross-border retailer in the world to achieve 10 million RMB (AU$2.1 million) in gross merchandise volume during Alibaba’s 11:11 global shopping festival.
Additional reporting by Ruth Hogan.