Sigma is a leading Australian full line pharmacy wholesale and distribution business. Sigma also has the largest pharmacy network in Australia, with over 1,200 branded and independent stores, including some of Australia’s best-known pharmacy retail brands: Amcal, Guardian, PharmaSave, Chemist King and Discount Drug Stores. The company is Australia’s partner of choice for health, beauty and personal care items.

From its modest beginnings in Melbourne in 1912, the company has expanded its network nationwide to service different communities around Australia. It selected Shenzhen-based cross-border e-commerce enabler Azoya Group and its Azoya Commerce solution to set up an online retail business for its Amcal brand in China. 

Here are the comments from Sigma's management on its partnership with Azoya:

1. Why would Sigma consider expanding to the China market?

Sigma recognized the rapid growth of e-commerce in China, and also the demand for quality Australian pharmacy branded products: vitamins, beauty accessories and a range of other health and personal care products.

It is an important milestone for Amcal as this will be the first international launch of the brand, starting with China. Sigma wants to ensure that the Amcal brand builds up the same recognition it has in the Australian market, and will focus heavily on this going forward.

2. Why now?

Sigma is diversifying into foreign online retail to reduce its reliance on its traditional core business of distributing medicine to pharmacy outlets.

With this move into China, there is an opportunity to build another income stream; this is very consistent with the broader strategy of reducing our reliance on the pharmacy business.

3. What is Sigma's expansion strategy for China Market?

Sigma has no immediate plans to open physical Amcal outlets in China. Based on the success of the eCommerce platform, we may explore other potential growth opportunities in the market.

4. Why partner with Azoya?

We have chosen Chinese-based Azoya Group as our partner to launch this venture, due to their local knowledge and expertise in cross-border eCommerce in China.

5. What would you value most in choosing a local partner for your China business?

There is nothing more valuable than having local expertise and resources available at hand: a team that understands the Chinese landscape and the knowledge to market and manage your merchandise. Azoya has established itself as a successful cross-border partner by working with other global retailers, and came highly recommended by others.

6. How would you differentiate your online retail business from other Australian pharmacies in China market? eg: Chemist Warehouse?

The key point of difference for Amcal is that we are Australia's most trusted pharmacy brand. We see this as an important factor since the Chinese customer considers brand and reputation to be very important when shopping online.

The Amcal online retail business consists of a stand-alone official China website rather than list on an existing global marketplace. Some of our major competitors have already entered the Chinese e-commerce market through Tmall Global. Our decision means that Amcal will not be in direct competition with similar players such as Chemist Warehouse.

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