Treasury Today Country Profiles in association with Citi

Samsonite

Samsonite China, Highly Commended, Best Card Solution

Jerry Chen, Samsonite and Dino Albuquerque, Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Through a sole agreement and a single bank account, Samsonite China has implemented an integrated collection service nationwide. The solution extends beyond physical cards to support popular third-party payment mechanisms like Alipay and Tenpay.

Photo of Jerry Chen, Samsonite and Dino Albuquerque, Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Jerry Chen

CFO

Samsonite, the world’s largest travel luggage company, with a heritage dating back more than a century, has approximately 100 standalone outlets, including stores and repair centres in China.

in partnership with

The challenge

Samsonite is constantly seeking to improve its business processes and customer satisfaction to position for further growth in the region. One of the key areas of focus for Samsonite was to simplify and improve its in-store collections. Each of its 100 outlets in China maintained an independent merchant acquiring agreement with its merchant acquirer, and had to make arrangements to set up point-of-sale (POS) terminals, store by store.

As Jerry Chen, CFO explains, “Depending on the location and agreement, we also had to set up and maintain a bank account for each store with different local banks, which were handling the POS terminals. We would manually wire the money from each bank to a centralised account. This means that with every new store it could take one to two months to open a bank account and arrange for the POS terminal to be set up, sometimes after the store had already opened.”

The solution

A centralised collections process through a single bank for greater efficiency

Samsonite chose Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BofAML) to implement a comprehensive collections solution in China. Through one general agreement and a single account with BofAML, all Samsonite outlets (and subsequent new outlets) can leverage an integrated collection service nationwide. With centralised collections to a single bank, access to a single point of support and comprehensive, consolidated reporting, Samsonite now enjoys the benefit of a more efficient collection and reconciliation process. The solution has also expanded beyond physical cards to support popular third-party payment mechanisms like Alipay and Tenpay. This allows Samsonite to expand their reach, attracting younger customers without having to go through an extensive set-up process and opening new accounts.

Eliminating paperwork for Samsonite’s foreign currency payments

Samsonite also found efficiency gains in minimising the paperwork required in its payment process. In China, companies with foreign currency transactions are required to present a Balance of Payment (BOP) declaration form together with a full set of supporting documents with a physical company chop (stamp) to the bank for verification of the payment purpose. Samsonite found that the supporting documentation requirements also varied from city to city and bank to bank, which means specific resources had to be assigned to prepare onerous special reporting requirements including monthly third-party audits and manage physical delivery of supporting documentation on a regular basis. Leveraging BofAML’s paperless foreign currency payment solution and expertise in cross-border transactions, Samsonite can now initiate payments and submit simplified supporting documents online, significantly reducing their time and resources in the process.

Best practice and innovation

Prior to working with BofAML, there were times when Samsonite, in the absence of a POS machine, could only accept cash. Thus, if a customer did not have cash they lost the business. Leveraging the BofAML integrated collection solution they can quickly start up a business without the need to open a new bank account. It is very efficient as there is a significant reduction in the lead time for opening new stores. Now they can begin to operate quickly and efficiently whereas previously they were only able to accept cash.

Chen concludes; “As an international retail company operating in a complex and geographically diverse market like China, Samsonite has put in place a best in class payments and collections process that has proven to work effectively in China. These treasury improvements are all scalable solutions and will better position Samsonite as we expand into the younger target market and continue to grow in China.”

Key benefits

  • Increased efficiency.

  • Paper eliminated.

  • Improved security.

  • Straight through processing.

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