Ever Rich maintains existing operations amid new launches
As Taiwan strives to control the impact of Covid-19, travel retailer Ever Rich Duty Free Shop remains defiant despite a surge in new cases.
At the time of writing (April 17, 2022), The Central Epidemic Command Center had recently announced 1,303 new confirmed cases of Covid-19, of which 1,210 were local (a record high) and 93 imported.
One thing is certain, Ever Rich Duty Free, which runs stores at several airports across the country including Taoyuan, Songshan, Taichung and Kaohsiung, along with a downtown complex in Neihu, Taipei, will continue fighting the pandemic and doing everything possible to emerge stronger.
Local tourism boom
Offering a snapshot of the impact of Covid-19 on business, an Ever Rich Duty Free Shop Spokesperson tells Global Travel Retail Magazine. “With the nation’s borders remaining virtually closed due to Covid-19, more than one million [local] tourists traveled to Penghu, one of Taiwan’s offshore islands, [where Ever Rich Duty Free Shop has been present since 2018] in 2020.”
Three years ago, Ever Rich soft-opened its resort duty free shopping complex in Penghu, an archipelago of clustered islands located in the Taiwan strait between Taiwan and China. The duty free and travel retail facilities in the Profond Pier 3 Duty Free Complex and Discovery Hotel span around 27,000 sq m and the opening marked the end of a three-year project.
The onset of the pandemic cut visitor numbers to Penghu in the first half of the year, but a period of ‘revenge travelling’ followed, prompting an influx of local tourists. Penghu Airport, therefore, had to take certain measures to ensure it could operate smoothly amid the anticipated surge in flights.
New measures included the implementation of three security lines for departing traffic and extra check-in counters. Ever Rich Duty Free no doubt had to implement its own new initiatives downtown to accommodate the higher footfall and increased demand across its duty free and travel retail business.
Last year, however, the numbers of visitors to Penghu fell almost by half during the heart of the pandemic to around 618,000 (Source: Central News Agency – Taiwan). In May 2021, the number of new local Covid infections for the whole of Taiwan soared to more than 400 a day (Source: Taiwan News). This prompted the cancellation of flights to Penghu and banning of mass events to prevent the spread of the virus.
‘Shouldering its responsibilities’
On how the Taiwanese retailer has navigated the pandemic in general, the Spokesperson comments: “Ever Rich Duty Free Shop has faced the severe impact [of Covid-19] and is continuing to do so while shouldering its responsibilities.
“Not only has Ever Rich Duty Free Shop continued providing services at airports and cooperating with government and airport measures, but it has also launched online shopping and home delivery services in a brief period.
“Product strategies for the Taiwan market continue to be adjusted and the membership system has been upgraded to provide further customized services.
“Ever Rich Duty Free Shop is also actively developing multiple online platforms including podcasts and diverse YouTube channels to communicate with Taiwanese customers. It hopes to be innovative and make breakthroughs when it comes to digital development.”
Encouraging employees and offering them opportunities to learn new professions and digital skills has been a prime objective during the pandemic. “No staff members have been relieved of their duties over the past two years. We have even opened new temporary domestic shops in this period to penetrate the Taiwanese market.”
In addition to launching online shopping, home delivery services and multiple online marketing channels, Ever Rich Duty Free ventured into the non-fungible token (NFT) market for the first time this year with the release of a digital artwork on trading platform OpenSea.
The catalyst for the launch was the exclusive Year of the Tiger Chinese imperial jade seal kaoliang liquor item on OpenSea, which claims to be the world’s largest NFT marketplace.
“The NFT market continues to gain momentum. After launching experimental NFT products on OpenSea in February 2022, Ever Rich launched a new series of NFT products in April and announced the creation of its own NFT platform. The aim of these initiatives is to provide a different metaverse shopping experience to customers.
“In addition to launching the God Metaverse Series, the retailer has introduced 100 sets of blind box products (packaging which keeps the content inside hidden) to integrate online and offline.”
“The official release platform will eventually combine Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) and charitable initiatives, along with other rich and diverse themes, while continuing to explore various cross-boundary possibilities.”
Philanthropy has always been an important core value of Ever Rich Duty Free Shop. Between March and April, the retailer has worked with local Taiwanese green brands (eco-friendly brands), had its own pop-up shop, and sold Taiwanese green products online.
“The pop-up shop does not have a printed illustration board,” the Spokesperson explains: “Members of the public can scan a QR code on site and access information about the shop, green products available and Ever Rich’s ESG vision.
“This year, Ever Rich is continuing to place a strong emphasis on ESG under the motto ‘It is our Duty to Travel Green.’ It also has specific goals relating to energy saving and plastic and carbon reduction.”