A.S. Watson Group hosts the first ever retail-themed Big Data Hackathon in Hong Kong

Hong Kong, 2018-Jan-31 — /EPR Retail News/ — A.S. Watson Group (ASW), the world’s largest international health and beauty retailer, hosted the first ever retail-themed Big Data Hackathon in Hong Kong. The 36-hour non-stop Hackathon attracted over 110 professionals in technology and data science to solve real-life business problems in retail and recommend how to enhance customer experience.

Malina Ngai, ASW Group Chief Operating Officer said, “For retailers, big data is a game-changer. A.S. Watson Group is adopting a data-first strategy towards understanding customer shopping behaviour, mapping them to our selection of products, shop floor space planning, marketing strategy and selection of store locations. We organised this Hackathon to enable the local startup communities, data scientist and programmers to bring their creative ideas to life, and provide solutions to enable retailers to become smarter and faster.”

Let Entrepreneurial Spirits Soar
During the two-day Hackathon, the 110 participants were grouped into 16 teams. The challenge they were given was how to detect certain imminent health incidences, develop algorithm for prediction, assortment planning, pricing and personalisation of offers to customers. The winners were decided based on three judging criteria, including innovation of the technical solution, business impact and quality of the pitch.

Through the Hackathon, these talented young people were able to demonstrate their entrepreneurial spirit and awareness of an ever-changing market, whilst unleashing their creativity and imagination. What’s more is that, as ASW is the only retailer in Hong Kong to provide gigabytes of business data for use in a Hackathon, participants gained exposure to real-world business scenarios and had an opportunity to play a significant role in finding fresh approaches to tackling them.

Unearthing Tech Talents for Hong Kong
Retail is one of the key contributors to economic growth in Hong Kong. The challenge for retailers is to find innovative, efficient and effective ways to draw insights from the ever-increasing amount of structured and unstructured information available about shoppers’ behaviours. However, in Hong Kong, the academic subject of data science and big data technology is relatively new and awareness is still low. It is important that this profession be urgently promoted in order to advance Hong Kong retail to the next level.

Ngai commented, “Data Science is one of the fastest-growing jobs today around the world. I hope the ASW Hackathon provided a unique opportunity for Hong Kong talents not only to gain a better understanding in retail, but also to arouse interests in the application of big data in retail. We encourage more companies to organise similar activities to promote the advancement of big data and data science in Hong Kong.

“Data and analytics will never replace the experience and judgment in running a retail business, but it can definitely provide us the tools to perform better. Big data will play a major role in shaping the future of retail industry.

“Congratulations to all the winning teams! They have demonstrated excellent stamina, teamwork, and innovative problem-solving technology.”

Judges of the ASW Hackathon include:

1. Malina Ngai, Group Chief Operating Officer of A.S. Watson Group
2. Dominic Wong, Managing Director of PARKnSHOP Hong Kong
3. Tony Verb, Managing Partner of GreaterBay Ventures & Advisors
4. Donald Tang, Private Investor, Former CEO of D.E. Shaw & Co. (Asia Pacific)
5. Cally Chan, General Manager of Microsoft Hong Kong & Macau
6. Jack Lau, Chairman, Swanland. AI & Adjunct Professor, Dept. of Electronic and Computer Engineering, HKUST

Winners of the Hackathon:

Champion – Dr. Watson
Winning Team Members: Jeffrey Leung, Amy Lau, Eugene Choi, Justin Yek and Jaclyn Tsui
Project Description:
The champion of the A.S. Watson Hackathon Dr. Watson is a concept that uses machine learning algorithm and integrates weather, search keyword, product information and translate to better customer experience. The health & beauty module can be used on the Watsons mobile app to recommend health tips and contents utilising collaborative filtering logic to provide personalized information and product recommendations. The AI engine correlates product sales against season and temperature, and seasonal products are recommended to customers based on individual’s profile.

Winning team representative Jeffrey Leung who currently works with A.S. Watson eLab is excited to have won, “Big data enables retailers to predict and personalize customer needs accurately, this is especially useful when it comes to improving health and wellbeing of customers.”

1st Runner-up – Trendmate
Winning Team Members: Larry Wong, Will Chiu, Winnie Yueng, Chris Kam, Annie Chan and Mandy So

Project Description:

“Trendmate” is an innovative module enhancement to the current Watsons mobile app to enhance the in-store experience of customers by providing personalized and targeted product recommendation, as well as in-app contents related to both the interests of the customers and the latest hot topics in the market, right at the moment when they enter the store.

Trendmate potentially increases the average transaction frequency of loyal customers and also attracts more customers to sign up the membership programme.

Larry Wong, who is a student majoring in data science in local tertiary institution, said “Thanks A.S. Watson who hosted this first retail-themed hackathon in the city! It gives us a valuable chance to get to know more about the science behind retail business, it is far more complicated than we expected!”

2nd Runner-up – 10 Fold Cross Validator
Winning Team Members: Hamilton Le, Aaron Chan, Tom Li, Xiangdong Gu, Leo Xie and Duncan Mak

Project Description:
The team has come up with an app feature called “Scan as You Go” which enables customers to scan items in-store and get comprehensive product information as well as personalised offers and discounts immediately. This app feature can help Watsons understand customer behaviour and find out the optimal discount it can offer.

“We just knew each other yesterday but we’ve worked closely for more than 36 hours. ASW Hackathon gave us an opportunity for like-minded professionals to get together and work out an innovative yet feasible solution in such a short period of time. Teamwork is one of the keys to our success,” said Xiangdong Gu who is a data scientist in an insurance company.

Aaron Chan, a data analyst, was very excited about winning the award, “ASW is one of the very few companies in Hong Kong which is so data-focused and willing to support tech innovation in Hong Kong with so many resources. The Hackathon encouraged us to think out of the box and breathe new life into retail industry.”

Source: A.S. Watson Group (ASW)

ASW’s Global Health Survey: France and the Philippines the most health-savvy European and Asian markets respectively

  • France and the Philippines are the most health-savvy European and Asian markets respectively
  • The global survey also reveals the correlation between happiness and health
  • One in every five people seek pharmacist’s advice when feeling ill

HongKong, 2017-Apr-10 — /EPR Retail News/ — To coincide with World Health Day, an annual global health awareness day designated by the World Health Organization (WHO), A.S. Watson Group (ASW) announced today ( April 7th, 2017) the results of the Group’s first-ever Global Health Survey conducted by A.S. Watson Group’s WISE customer panel, with responses from more than 10,000 customers in 11 European and Asian markets, providing valuable insights into the expectations and needs customers around the globe have in personal health and wellbeing.

A large-scale research to understand global trend and local needs on health
The research was conducted with 10,580 customers of ASW brands in 11 markets, from November 2016 through January 2017. Respondents aged between 15 and 60 years took the survey voluntarily to share their thoughts on an array of health topics.
Respondents were asked about their perceived level of health and how knowledgeable they thought they were about health. WISE devised a formula to harness the vast data so to generate a holistic understanding of the general level of health of the surveyed markets – which was aptly named the Global Health Index; markets which had more people considering themselves healthy and well-versed in health matters scored better in the Index.

Among the 11 surveyed markets, France topped the list, followed by the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Ukraine, China, Thailand, Taiwan, and Hong Kong came in last. Overall, European markets fared better than Asian ones, while Ukraine, Thailand and the three Greater China markets did worse than the global average.

Smile and health are two sides of the same coin
This year’s World Health Day was devoted to raising awareness of depression. In order to learn more about mental health the Global Health Research asked and found that the older we are, the less we smile. This downward trend is alarming and signified the urgency for us to act and improve mental health around the world. Luckily, the Research shed light on a possible solution, with lots of laughs. The Research revealed the relationship between happiness and perceived health condition. For markets whose people smile more often, they enjoy a higher perception of health and wellbeing as well, e.g. France, China, the Philippines, and Malaysia (please refer to image 2 in the Appendix).

Pharmacists poised to play a bigger role in the community
ASW believes community pharmacists can play bigger roles in the communities around the globe to alleviate the ever-increasing healthcare burden on customers’ and healthcare systems’ shoulders. The Global Health Research found that the majority of people (69%) go to doctors for medical advice, with only 21% would talk to a community pharmacist for medical advice; meanwhile, 35% revealed that they have sought advice from the internet, which could put public health in danger since online advice are not all guaranteed credible.

Honorary Associate Professor William Chui, president of the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Hong Kong, expected a more engaged role for community pharmacists, “Professionally trained with healthcare expertise, both hospital pharmacists and community pharmacists can be and have been trusted professionals in the communities and should be regarded as an authoritative source of health and medical advice; pharmacists can also lessen the mounting pressure on a community’s prevailing healthcare sector, public or private, and release valuable healthcare resources to more critical needs.”

Mobilising 46,000,000 people around the world to #GetActive!
In response to the Research results, and also the WHO’s Sustainable Development Goal, A.S. Watson will organise the Global Health Campaign to promote healthy lives and well-being for all at all ages.

Themed under “#GetActive”, the Global Health Campaign encourages a more active lifestyle through engaging our customers. All participating ASW markets will organise activities on health topics to energise over 46,000,000 customers around the world. By organising health-themed events we hope to make our communities healthier, including #GetActive outdoor sports challenges, flashmob exercises, in-store activities and social media education campaigns.

To further answer the call from WHO to fight depression, the ASW Global Smile Campaign in June will relay positive energy to all markets around the world, we hope to make our communities more supportive, and eventually free from depression. Apart from fun and engaging activities, people can also visit http://projectlol.hk/share-smile/, upload their cheerful selfies, get their smiles rated and share the joy with all on the social media.

Ms Malina Ngai, JP, Chief Operating Officer of A.S. Watson Group further explained the reason for taking the health campaign to a global scale, “ASW was founded over 175 years ago to provide quality health products to customers. In view of the facts garnered from Global Health Research, we know that people say they want to be healthier by exercising, but not many of them walk the talk. As the leading international health and beauty retailer in Asia and Europe, we want to challenge the mindset of the people that we can all be active in daily life without putting on sports gear, encourage more of them to live healthier, and create closer bonding with their favourite brands by using our healthcare expertise, online and offline.”


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Source: A.S. Watson Group

A.S. Watson Group further invests in big data capabilities through partnership with Rubikloud

HONG KONG, 2017-Feb-02 — /EPR Retail News/ — A.S. Watson Group (ASW), the largest international health and beauty retailer in Asia and Europe, announced today ( February 1, 2017) a partnership with Toronto-based Rubikloud as part of its investment in big data capabilities. The Group will invest USD 70 million (approximately HKD540 million) in the coming three years on big data, to further enhance customer experience and operational efficiencies using machine learning and data visualisation applications.

Rubikloud is a Toronto-based company, with seed round funding led by Horizon Ventures, the investment arm of Mr Li Ka-shing. Over the next three years, ASW will partner with Rubikloud to deploy RubiCore, the company’s data enterprise platform built for easier artificial intelligence applications plug-in, as well as two of its machine learning applications, namely Promotion Manager and Lifecycle Manager, in ASW’s network of 13,300 retail stores across 25 Asian and European markets.

Expanding the Winning Partnership across the Globe
The ASW-Rubikloud partnership began in 2015 at one of ASW’s European operations. In just 10 months, Rubikloud’s machine-learning application Lifecycle Manager successfully generated incremental sales from direct-to-customer CRM campaigns by more than 8%. This initial winning partnership led to the deployment of Rubikloud’s Promotion Manager application for ASW’s UK flagship brand Superdrug, expected to bring about more accurate sales forecasts and more efficient operations, and has since grown into the Group-level partnership being announced today.

Making Smarter Decisions Faster
Rubikloud’s RubiCore will help enhance operational excellence within ASW, by rapidly integrating many legacy databases from across business units and sources, into a single, elastic cloud enabled database. This exercise is expected to shorten the roll-out lead time of current and future machine learning tools by 50-80%. Specifically, newer visualisation platforms and machine learning applications across ASW will all have access to the same data from a single location in the cloud for enhanced real-time decision making. ASW believes such tool is crucial to excel in retail management and operations.

By harmonising all corporate databases into single data architecture, it is expected that the impactful machine-learning-driven solutions provided by Rubikloud will allow tailor-made promotion strategy recommendations. Rubikloud’s total solution will allow ASW’s retail brands to provide the right offers to the right customers, enabling truly customer-centric and optimised marketing promotions.

Malina Ngai, Chief Operating Officer of A.S. Watson Group, sets high expectation over the big data partner appointment, “We are investing in big data amid global economic uncertainties because we believe that technology is a critical enabler for successful retailing in today’s world. With the right technology, we will be able to focus our resources, from the backend support to shop floor, on building better customer experience. Rubikloud has cutting-edge machine learning applications and their new thinking in data science is a true value-add to our well established retail experience.”

According to Kerry Liu, CEO of Rubikloud, the company aims to support ASW to further enhance its capabilities in personalising customer offers through advanced targeting, as well as optimising promotional effectiveness. “We are thrilled to partner with a global retail leader like A.S. Watson Group. At Rubikloud we focus on applying machine learning and flexible big data architectures in practical applications, which means driving tangible business impact.”

About A.S. Watson Group
Established in Hong Kong in 1841, A.S. Watson Group is the largest international health and beauty retailer in Asia and Europe with 13,300 stores in 25 markets. Each year, over three billion customers and members shop with our 13 retail brands, both in stores and online.

A.S. Watson Group is also a member of the world-renowned multinational conglomerate CK Hutchison Holdings Limited, which has five core businesses – ports and related services, retail, infrastructure, energy and telecommunications in over 50 countries.

Please visit www.aswatson.com for more in-depth information about A.S. Watson Group and its brands. You may also stay in touch with us via our digital presence (eCommerce, social media, mobile app & more); more details are at http://www.aswatson.com/our-customers/digitalasw/.

About Rubikloud
Rubikloud is a leading machine intelligence platform for enterprise retailers. Rubikloud sits at the intersection of an enterprise software revolution. Embedded machine learning, industry specific decision engines, and elastic cloud compliant architectures will be at the forefront of all future enterprise software systems. Rubikloud’s big-data architecture gathers retailer data from both legacy and new online and offline systems. This data is then used to help retailers make tangible actions that grow their loyalty revenue, promotion forecast accuracy, and merchandising profitability. The Toronto-based company works with leading omnichannel retailers around the world.


Tel: +852 2606 8833
Fax: +852 2690 2836
Email: grouppr@aswatson.com

Source: A.S. Watson Group

A.S. Watson Group eLab announces the appointment of Mtel as its Asia mobile solution partner for the next three years

HONG KONG, 2016-Mar-11 — /EPR Retail News/ — As a strategic move to accelerate the enhancement of mobile engagement with customers, A.S. Watson Group (ASW) eLab has announced today the appointment of Mtel as its Asia mobile solution partner for the next three years. In 2016 alone, MTel will deliver 9 mobile apps for ASW eLab in Asia. Operating in 25 markets worldwide, A.S. Watson Group is the largest international health & beauty retailer in Asia & Europe. This appointment would make Mtel, a leading digital solution agency based in Hong Kong, a strategic partner of ASW’s customer-centric retailing approach.

Since 2014, ASW invested US60 million in the establishment and development of its technology platform to drive Customer Relationship Management and digital experience for its retail shoppers. The Group now has over 105 million loyalty members, 7 eStores in Asia and 8 eStores in Europe.

The new addition of Mtel as its extended mobile arm will help to accelerate the implementation of ASW’s digital strategy.

This appointment focuses Asia, covering retail brands including Watsons, PARKnSHOP, FORTRESS and Watson’s Wine.

Malina Ngai, JP, Chief Operating Officer of A.S. Watson Group is excited about this partnership, “Our global web traffic has increased by 98% last year to over 568 million, and 40% of the traffic is from mobile. It is of utmost importance that we accelerate to enhance the mobile experience for our shoppers. In Asia, the Watsons brand in particular is the most trusted health and beauty retailer brand, and our core customer groups across the region are increasingly mobile savvy. I believe that Mtel expertise can support us to stay relevant to our customers and further strengthen our relationship with them. The 9 mobile apps that we are building this year will all have mCommerce function and also allow customer to carry mobile loyalty card.”

Willy Wong, CEO of Mtel is thrilled with being appointed as the eLab Partner, “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 A.S. Watson to make a difference in the role mobile plays in their business.”

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About A.S. Watson Group
Established in Hong Kong in 1841, A.S. Watson Group is the largest international health and beauty retailer in Asia and Europe with 12,400 stores in 25 markets. Each year, over 3 billion customers and members shop with our 13 retail brands, both in stores and online. In Hong Kong, we operate over 650 stores under four retail brands – Watsons, PARKnSHOP, FORTRESS, and Watson’s Wine. In addition, we manufacture and distribute high quality drinking water brand Watsons Water, as well as famous juice drinks Mr. Juicy and Sunkist. For the fiscal year 2014, A.S. Watson Group increased its revenue by 6% to HK$157.4 billion. We have over 120,000 employees worldwide, including 12,800 in Hong Kong.

A.S. Watson Group is also a member of the world-renowned multinational conglomerate CK Hutchison Holdings Limited, which has major interests in ports and related services, retail, infrastructure, energy and telecommunications in over 50 countries.
Please visit www.aswatson.com for more in-depth information about A.S. Watson Group and its brands.

You may also stay in touch with us via our digital presence (eCommerce, social media, mobile app & more); more details are at http://www.aswatson.com/en/our-customers/digitalasw/.

About ASW eLab
eLab is an in-house digital division of A.S. Watson, a dedicated digital team to offer a global support to the Group’s eCommerce business. Working alongside with business units, eLab helps build their eCommerce offers and to engage customers online, advising on strategies and consulting, web and mobile development, design and platform development. There are currently 80 people working in Hong Kong, United Kingdom and Milan to support the eCommerce initiatives across Asia and Europe.

About Mtel
Established in 1999 and headquartered in Hong Kong, Mtel has developed into one of the leading digital solution providers with offices in Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Taipei. With a team of over hundred professionals, Mtel provides digital solutions to renowned international and local clients from a wide spectrum of industries including retail, finance, insurance, telecommunications, public utilities and advertising. Mtel supports these clients with development of mobile, web and social applications, digital installations and cloud platform. http://www.mtelnet.com/about.html

A.S. Watson Retail (HK) Ltd
A.S. Watson Brand Contact Methods
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+852 2606 8833
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