Of the many shifts in behaviour caused by the coronavirus, the move to ecommerce has been among the most noticeable. Faced by lockdowns or fears of infection, many consumers are buying more online instead of visiting physical stores, accelerating a trend already visible across major markets. Duty free and travel retail’s embrace of online and digital had been expanding before the pandemic, but here too, things are moving faster as retailers target travellers currently more concerned about safety than shopping. However it is in China, where domestic holidaymakers are driving a boom in duty free sales, that the online channel is really taking off.
A recent report by Morgan Stanley points to a swift rise in Chinese online duty free sales during the pandemic, with the parent company of leading retailer China Duty Free Group seeing ecommerce grow from 10% of its turnover in January to 50% in May. DFS Group’s announcement in August of a 22% stake in Shenzen Duty Free Ecommerce Co suggests the LVMH-owned retailer also recognises online’s increasing importance and sees the change as more than short term. In addition to handling transactions, digital and mobile are fast becoming mainstream promotional tools. CDFG recently livestreamed coverage of its CDF Mall outlet on Hainan, generating over 300,000 views, while brands are likewise livestreaming major activations to extend their reach.
From 1 to 3 December ‘TFWA China Reborn’, organised in partnership with China Duty Free Group, will examine the changing dynamics of this crucial market, like the rise of ecommerce, in a programme of virtual seminar sessions. TFWA’s ONE2ONE meeting service will use a new platform powered by Tencent Cloud Conference (TCC) to bring potential partners together. Details of the event programme, speakers and registration process will be announced shortly.