State-controlled China National Service Corporation for Chinese Personnel Working Abroad (CNSC) has officially opened its new Dalian downtown duty free store.
The 2,000sq m shop in the city’s Olympia 66 Plaza, is the retailer’s second store in Dalian following the opening of its 295sq m arrivals duty free shop at Zhoushuizi International Airport in 2017.
It is also the second store to open as part of an ambitious country-wide expansion plan, encompassing 12 downtown duty free stores. This is scheduled for completion by 2020. First to open was its flagship Shanghai downtown outlet in August 2016.
As of November 2018, sales in the arrivals duty free store in Dalian, which stocks perfumes and cosmetics, food, fashion and accessories, liquor and tobacco and souvenirs, had grown at an annual rate of 25%.
A COMMERCIAL LANDMARK
Located on the first/second floor in the East Zone of the Olympia 66 Plaza, a commercial landmark, the Dalian downtown outlet is the only domestic duty free store in Liaoning Province and largest in northern China. It is split into four areas — Premium Beauty, Beauty Gallery, Fashion and Lifestyle Loft and Health and Kids Hut.
Cosmetics, perfumes, suitcases, handbags, jewellery, sunglasses, watches, everyday chemicals, special arts and crafts, children’s products are among the categories all available in-store. In terms of brands, the store boats several international labels, many of which are appearing for the first time in Dalian.
More than 100 people attended last week’s official lavish grand-opening. These included chief leaders from the Dalian Municipal Government, District Government and Dalian Customs. Among them was Li Xiangdong, Chairman of Dalian International Airport Group Co Ltd, Yu Chuanfu, Deputy Secretary of the Party Committee and Shi Shengyi, Deputy General Manager of China National Pharmaceutical Group Co Ltd (Sinopharm) and chairman of China Sinopharm International Corporation (China Sinopharm International).
Also in attendance was Zhang Liqiong, Deputy General Manager of China Sinopharm International and Executive Director, CNSC and Qu Hongyan, Deputy General, CNSC. Other leaders and industry peers were also present.
During the opening ceremony, CNSC also received the Dalian Commercial Value Potential Award in recognition of the new store. This was jointly awarded by Netease (Dalian), Sina, Dalian and other media. In addition, CNSC also revealed details of a strategic collaboration with Air China Dalian.
Much like its downtown duty free stores in Shanghai, Beijing and other regions, the Dalian outlet mainly targets Chinese travellers returning from abroad and provides them with a convenient duty free shopping experience. Customers aged at least 16 can purchase up to 180 days after returning from overseas on presentation of their passport. Items can be purchased and collected directly in-store.
Two days prior to the official opening, the company implemented various marketing activities. Those subscribing to the company’s official WeChat account, for example, received gifts enabling to spend up to a certain amount. The activity generated 1.2 million interactions.
Reflecting on the Dalian downtown duty free inauguration, the company said: “The opening of the store will create a new business card for the coastal city of Dalian, under the slogan ‘Number one duty free store in northeast China, duty free shopping in Dalian.’ It will upgrade the commercial level of Dalian and even the northeast of China.”
According to CNSC, the store marks the start of its ‘innovative interactive operation mode’ of port plus city. “Such a mode not only promotes the mutual diversion between CNSC’s Dalian Airport arrival shop and downtown duty free store, but enables consumers to enjoy more diversified duty free shopping experiences such as preferential prices, consumer experiences and after-sale services.”
Meanwhile, the company is pressing ahead with further downtown projects in locations such as Nanjing, Zhengzhou, Hangzhou, Harbin, Beijing, Qingdao, Nanchang and Chongqing. These are set for completion in 2020. Other new downtown duty free stores will also open in the next five years.
In conversation with TRBusiness, Chang Zhen, Executive Deputy General Manager, CNSC commented: “At the same time, we will also actively explore and invest in airport stores and border stores, all over the country’s major first and second tier cities.”
Upgrading and improving its information system is a further priority. “This is the first step of realising data marketing,” he remarked.
Membership promotion is also on the agenda, according to Zhen. This involves exploiting the advantages and features of downtown duty-free stores, reinforcing the link between downtown duty free stores and border stores and providing more favourable and enhanced shopping experiences.
He added: “In terms of commodities, we are actively introducing more luxury international brands to meet the needs of consumers. At the same time, we are exploring and promoting exclusive CNSC products. Moreover, we attach great importance to developing pre-sale and in-sale experience, after-sale and digital opportunities and interesting interactive experiences.”
Regarding CNSC’s digital strategy, Zhen concluded: “We are perfectly happy to introduce intelligent, interesting and digital technology that can help enhance consumers’ shopping experience.”