A.S. Watson Group (ASW), the world’s largest international health and beauty retailer has launched its first ever Technology Partnership Programme to build a network of technology expert partners to support the acceleration of its digital transformation. 

Malina Ngai, group chief operating officer of ASW, said: “We believe every technology partner whom we have chosen to work with is more than just a vendor.

“Traditional client-vendor relationship is short-term. There is lack of transparency and continuity in the way we work with each other. Besides, project base contract makes it difficult for their resource planning.

“The Partnership Programme is designed to transform the short-term contractual relationship to a longer-term strategic relationship to create a win-win for both parties.

“Our Tech Partners will have access to senior management, visibility on our growth strategy and technology roadmap, as well as a longer term financial commitment from us.

“We can benefit from their commitment in providing consistent resources, expert advice and services, as well as first-hand access to innovation they develop.

“The appointment of our first batch of worldwide Tech Partners shows our determination to accelerate our digital transformation.

“The goal of such transformation is to enable A.S. Watson Group to build on our solid retail foundation to fuel further growth through a smarter and more efficient organisation.

“Our purpose of putting customer first and putting a smile on their faces continues. We recognize that our customers are changing rapidly and technology has become an ever more critical ingredient to deliver our purpose.”

ASW embarked on its digital transformation journey in 2011 when it introduced its first Customer Strategy.

Investment initially was dedicated to CRM, eCommerce and mobile experience, amounted to $70m. 

It subsequently established eLab in 2015, an in-house digital agency focusing on supporting all operating businesses to develop eCommerce and digital marketing. 

In 2017, ASW kicked off another major investment of $70m in big data to build new capabilities in analytics and machine learning. 

The first batch of Tech Partners comprises of expertise in the areas of eCommerce, store systems, data science, artificial intelligence, data visualization, technology ecosystem and services and growing.

Balazs Fejes, EVP & co-head global business of EPAM said: “EPAM is pleased to serve A.S. Watson Group in four countries in Europe at present and is exploring new opportunities in its Asia portfolio.

“We appreciate ASW’s approach to making its technology roadmap transparent, whether a partner is large or small, as this facilitates a mutual understanding of needs and expectations.

“This partnership, combined with our focus on rapidly developing disruptive solutions in the areas of big data and digital experiences, will enable us to collectively support a full range of digital transformation strategies within ASW.”

Willy Wong, CEO of Mtel said: “While many companies look at mobile app development as a project, it is evolving into a strategic tool for consumer brands to engage its customers.

“I am pleased to create a long-term partnership with a successful international retailer like A.S. Watson who sees mobile as more than a one-off project.

“Our initial scope is in Asia and I am confident that we will help ASW to make a difference in the role mobile plays in their business.”