What is the Future of E-Commerce in Hong Kong?

By Jia Yizhen

Hong Kong – Hong Kong should develop a “hybrid e-commerce platform” in the future, serving not only local but also international online commerce, Gary Ng, the Chairman of Hong Kong Courier Association, said in a telephone interview yesterday.

Sales value of online commerce in Hong Kong reached $51.7 billion in 2014, according to a research of Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC). A Nielsen study pointed that 88 percent of Hong Kong consumers shopped online from March 2015 to March 2016.

Though the demand of local market is on the rise, it can by no means compare with Mainland, said by Yu Kiu Tang, the owner of barbiegal_babe, a Hong Kong online clothes store with about 7,000 Instagram followers. Tang said many local online stores like hers promoted on Facebook or Instagram and it was better to have a platform integrating Hong Kong online stores, but building a large local e-commerce platform was hard. “It’s quite difficult to have so many human resources in Hong Kong to manage a large platform as well as develop regulatory system and payment system,” she said.

To Cheuk Ting, an undergraduate student of Information Management of HKU, said that she shopped more on Tmall and Taobao than on local e-commerce platforms because there were more kinds of brands and stores on the former. “I bought many clothes in Tmall this Singles’ Day,” she added.

Tmall and Taobao, two of the largest Mainland e-commerce platforms run by Alibaba, have made November 11, also called Singles’ Day, become a national online shopping festival with more discounts and preferential activities. Alibaba reported that sales reached $17.8 billion on Singles’ Day 2016. This year, it also promoted Singles’ Day festival into Hong Kong, launching Tmall.hk which allows for payment by Octopus cards and transactions in Hong Kong dollars.

“HKTV Mall is a relatively large e-commerce platform in Hong Kong but it’s still not yet making profits,” said by Charlotte Shong, the general manager of Cross Border Development in Hong Kong Federation of E-Commerce (HKFEC).

Gary Ng said e-commerce platforms only focusing on local markets were not suitable for Hong Kong. “Hong Kong should combine both local and cross-border e-commerce markets, becoming an international e-commerce transshipment center in the future,” Ng added, “It has the advantage to bridge between China and the West.”

Cross-border e-commerce, also known as international online trade, means the sale or purchase of products via online shops across national borders. The China E-Commerce Research Center estimated that the number of people carrying out overseas online shopping in China would rise from 18 million in 2014 to 35.6 million in 2018.

As Hong Kong companies have accumulated years of experience in cooperating with foreign traders, they are knowledgeable about foreign products and have good understanding of Mainland consumers’ demand, a research of HKTDC indicated. “Global view is an advantage of Hong Kong traders, which makes them more sensitive about what kinds of products might be trendy,” Charlotte Shong added, “Besides, the relatively stable currency of Hong Kong dollars now can be another advantage to develop cross-border e-commerce platform.”

Ng also said that relying on cross-border e-commerce only would not be reasonable for Hong Kong since it was affected by the policy changes related to imports, such as tax rates.

The Chinese government has set up cross-border e-commerce import services pilots in 12 Mainland cities such as Shanghai and Shenzhen. The products sold from Hong Kong were mainly mother and child products, personal care products, cosmetics and so on, according to a research of HKTDC.

 

-An Assignment of Writing and Reporting

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