Chemist Warehouse opening bricks-and-mortar store in China

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. 

Mena Pannia, Nancy Jian, Maggie Zhou and Scott Ni.

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.

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