Fortnum & Mason accelerate digital transformation

Fortnum & Mason, who accelerated their digital transformation through the coronavirus pandemic, have China in their sights, having launched their Tmall Global store on the 18th of June.

Few brands are as British as Fortnum & Mason, opening up shop 315 years ago and an everlasting feature of Piccadilly, they hold two Royal Warrants – the Queen and the Prince of Wales. That in itself is a huge attraction to Chinese buyers, but for the past few years few have been able to visit London and in lockdown store footfall was wiped out with Brits in lockdown and overseas shoppers barred from travel.

With a burgeoning middle class, China is an attractive market for British goods, the number of households in the upper-middle income and above bracket is expected to grow by at least 70% over the coming decade. Fortnum & Mason are using their TMall store to learn insights from China, such as how to swiftly spot emerging shopping trends and adapt their range of products to suit local tastes.

Roughly half of Asian consumers are health-conscious when they shop, far more than in Europe at 27% and the US at 31%, according to a recent survey by Bain & Co. Fortnum’s sparkling tea, infused with botanicals, caters to that trend. Party goers are increasingly imbibing the zero-alcohol drink instead of supping champagne. The sparkling tea is a top seller at Fortnum’s Hong Kong store.

There’s an awful lot to learn from China about the way consumers interact digitally. We’re just beginning to uncover the digital opportunity.

– Tom Athron, CEO, Fortnum & Mason

Globally, online sales contribute 30% to 40% of Fortnum’s sales today, up from about 10% two years ago. This is attributed in part to the company’s revamped website unveiled in August 2020 and investment in data driven-decisions. However CEO Tom Athron guesses that in two- or three-years’ time, only 30% of sales will be driven out of the flagship Piccadilly store with 70% driven either internationally or online.

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