Superdrug owner Hong Kong-based AS Watson is launching its European digital eLab in London to develop innovative ecommerce campaigns across the group.
AS Watson, which also owns value health and beauty retailer Savers and fragrance retailer The Perfume Shop, said the eLabs will develop its digital strategy to be a leader in innovative ecommerce campaigns.
The eLab will create 20 jobs in London, and the team, which will be made up of talent across digital marketing, design and content, will work with AS Watson’s eLabs in China, Milan and Hong Kong to develop and roll out new technologies across the group, such as mobile optimised sites, apps and iBeacons .
AS Watson, one of the largest international health and beauty retailers in Asia and Europe, launched a piece of work in 2011 to analyse the best way to engage with its customers.
The eLabs build on the work it has already done by moving the whole group to the correct online platform and gathering customer insight from its loyalty schemes.
And in May, AS Watson revealed it was investing $60m (£37m) over the next three years in its customer relationship management (CRM) and digital strategies over the next three years.
AS Watson chief operating officer Malina Ngai said: “In order to sustain our leadership we need to engage our customers 360 degrees and not just through the stores or traditional means.
“The technology teams in the eLabs will enhance the IT platforms and develop mobile technology, so the websites are fully mobile optimised and customers on the road have a good experience.”
Ngai said for Superdrug in particular, AS Watson wants to create a platform so customers can earn points on its Beautycard loyalty scheme via their mobile phones. This technology is expected to be introduced next year.
There is also scope to develop apps, games and link to social media sites and websites such as Foursquare.
AS Watson, which generated sales of $19bn (£11.7bn) in its last year, aims to grow online so it contributes 5% of the total revenue in the next 18 months.
Ngai added: “Bringing our resources together to create synergy and efficiency ensures a cost-effective and consistent approach to content for all our business units.
“The new digital team will provide customised digital solutions to local needs and provide a road map to provide inspirational eCommerce solutions.”
Ngai said London is a logical place for an eLab because AS Watson is the UK’s largest investor.
“In Europe, the UK is the most advanced country for mobile penetration,” she added.
AS Watson is yet to secure a location for the eLab team but it begins recruiting in October.