Global retail pharmacy Walgreens Boots Alliance has made its first move into China’s consumer market through Alibaba Group’s dedicated cross-border e-commerce platform, Tmall Global, launching a flagship store on the site on Thursday.
WBA will start by selling three of its top Boots brands, No7, Soap & Glory and Boots Cucumber, the company said in a release. The launch will give WBA access to the more than half a billion consumers who are currently shopping on sites within the Alibaba ecosystem.
Ken Murphy, executive vice president at WBA, said that access will help to further internationalize WBA’s products while also complementing its wholesale and retail pharmacy business in China with a new sales channel direct to consumers.
“Today’s announcement is the first step on a path we believe offers both of us incredible potential for the future,” Murphy said.
WATCH: WBA Executive Vice President Ken Murphy Talks Tmall Global
WBA is the result of the acquisition of UK and Switzerland-based Alliance Boots by Deerfield, Illinois-based Walgreens in 2014. Outside of its home markets of the U.S. and Europe, WBA also has a presence in 35 countries, including Korea and Thailand in Asia.
According to data from Euromonitor, total retail sales of skincare and make-up products in China reached RMB 186.7 billion ($27.26 billion) and RMB 34.4 billion ($5.02 billion), respectively, in 2017, up 10% and 21% year-over-year. Those numbers have been driven by an upgrade in Chinese consumption as spending power increases along with exposure to high-quality, foreign goods.
“We are thrilled to be partnering with Walgreens Boots Alliance as they continue to build their brands in China, engage a new audience and meet the evolving lifestyle demands of the Chinese consumer,” Alibaba Group President Michael Evans said.
“We look forward to building on the relationship with WBA to continuously expand the range of product selection to better serve the more than half a billion consumers on our marketplaces looking for quality international beauty and cosmetics products,” he said.
Launched in 2014, Tmall Global allows for the sale of select imported products in China that have been granted preferential trade treatment by the Chinese government, including some beauty and personal-care goods. Many international brands have been using the site as a point of first entry when choosing to extend their business to China.