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SME Featured East Asia

HKTDC launches one-stop platform for SMEs to tap into GBA biz

Hong Kong – The Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), a statutory body that promotes, assists, and develops the country’s trade, has launched the GoGBA one-stop platform, a new business support program that aims to help SMEs tap into the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA).

GBA is China’s project that seeks to foster economic growth by developing technology and innovation, boosting infrastructure, and increasing financial links between Hong Kong, Macau, and nine other cities in Southern China.

Through the new GoGBA one-stop platform, businesses will be able to enjoy its three major services that can help them succeed in the region.

One of the services is the digital information and business tools, which consists of the GoGBA WeChat mini program digital messaging platform, running in collaboration with the government offices of Guangdong province and municipal governments in the GBA. It provides important information on the region including updates on policies and subsidies, listings of related business and trade organizations, and regional guides, as well as information on GBA government services and applications. It also offers practical tools such as weather forecasts, interactive maps, and details of public services, among others.

GBA also offers advisory services and training, where centers organize a series of seminars and workshops, sharing sessions and advisory activities in group or individual formats, equipping companies with the practical knowledge and skill sets needed to succeed.

And lastly, GBA offers online and offline activities, promoting the adoption of the new ‘digital and physical’ format for events and activities. The Council is currently planning to organize a wide range of activities in the mainland, including exhibitions and conferences, to help Hong Kong enterprises promote their products and services, explore business opportunities in GBA cities, and gain practical experience at the same time.

HKTDC’s Chairman Dr. Peter K N Lam shared that the GBA offers huge opportunities for businesses in Hong Kong and around the world. 

“Our GoGBA WeChat mini program is a useful digital tool to complement our physical support centers in Hong Kong and Shenzhen, and other parts of the GBA through our partners. As more and more businesses look for prospects in the GBA, the HKTDC is here to help,” said Lam.

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Marketing Featured East Asia

About 73% of Greater Bay Area retailers applying localized digital strategies: report

Hong Kong – As more and more consumers are embracing an online-to-offline (O2O) approach to the retail industry, a greater majority of retailers across Hong Kong and nine key cities in Mainland China, known as the ‘Greater Bay Area’ (GBA), are keeping in mind the importance of digital strategies to their business, specifically in the local setting, a new report from consulting firm KPMG, in partnership with the Hong Kong arm of business communication non-profit GS1, and financial institution HSBC shows.

In its latest report, they note that 73% of GBA retailers are implementing localized forms of their retail digital strategies, keeping in mind that they are increasing their use of both direct-to-consumer e-commerce and third-party e-commerce platforms.

The most common business functions for which 43% of surveyed retailers are implementing a GBA strategy are sales and marketing and communications, as companies look to attract customers in the mainland China market. Thirty percent of those retailers polled are developing a GBA programme for fulfilment, logistics, operations or supply chain management.

Consumer-wise, one in two (50%) of Hong Kong consumers said they felt more comfortable about shopping online since the start of the pandemic, not far behind the 59% of respondents from the nine mainland China GBA cities surveyed. Tellingly, 24% of Hong Kong consumers and 23% of those in the mainland GBA cities say they could live without physical retail stores.

The greater force that the report notes as game-changer for the modern retailer is the choice of Gen Z consumers towards online shopping, as 73% of Gen Z consumers in Hong Kong and 86% in mainland GBA cities expecting a swift response to product enquiries logged on online chat, and expecting brands to use tech including AI to help shortlist new products. 

They also expect augmented reality (AR) functions to help them make better purchases online, with 61% in Hong Kong, and 82% in mainland GBA cities. The research also shows Gen Z consumers prefer contactless shopping (60% in Hong Kong and 77% in mainland GBA cities). Around 76% of retailers surveyed are adopting at least one type of Gen Z-specific strategy.

In the mid of the rising population of shoppers moving towards online, GBA retailers need to act fast to respond to the consumers’ O2O needs. The research shows a vast gap between customer expectations and what retailers are delivering, with 77% of Hong Kong and 85% of mainland respondents in the GBA indicating that retailers need to have a better connection between channels and create a seamless customer journey. Among retail executives that were surveyed on their actions to enhance customer experience, only 39% of businesses were currently focusing on the integration between physical stores and online, suggesting a significant gap in retailers’ O2O propositions.

Alice Yip, partner at head of consumer and industrial markets for Hong Kong at KPMG China, notes that these results cement the fact that more consumers are buying more online than ever before, and the retail brands who have best survived this rapid transition are those who have proven agile in their response to the growing demand for digital engagement.

“Hong Kong and mainland China GBA retailers are already implementing strategies for regional growth across the region while also looking to expand into Southeast Asia, with industry leaders emphasising the need for adequate localisation of products, services and marketing approaches to attract the growing pool of digital-savvy consumers,” Yip stated.

For Anna Lin, CEO at GS1, she explains that consumers expect a seamless transition from an in-store experience to an online experience. She added that consumers also want to engage with brands across social media and other digital media and they expect brands to use technology to improve customer service, ease of payments, flexible delivery options and convenient returns.

This is also agreed by Lewis Sun, head of product management for global liquidity and cash management for Asia Pacific at HSBC, who commented, “In order to deliver a seamless customer journey, more retailers in the Greater Bay Area are looking for a single platform that can take payments from multiple channels – from credit cards, bank transfers to e-wallets.”

As retailers and brands develop more complex digital channels and deploy new technologies, sourcing, upskilling and reskilling talent to build a future-ready workforce will be a key priority for retailers in navigating the new normal and capturing growth opportunities. With technical areas such as IT and systems support (38%), data analytics (35%), and research & development (31%) identified as top areas demanding more workforce, professional development programs as well as talent exchange within the GBA will provide opportunities to fill the gaps.

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Platforms Featured Southeast Asia

Newly launched news platform to highlight ties between Singapore, China

Guangzhou, China – Nanfang Media Group and Singapore Press Holdings’ Chinese Media Group (CMG) jointly launched a webpage named ‘Explore GBA’ on zaobao.com, a news website in Southeast Asia.

The webpage aims to bring together the enterprises and individuals that contributed to connections between Singapore and China’s megalopolis Greater Bay Area (GBA). It will focus on individual stories that showcase the latest and diverse possibilities for partnership between GBA and Southeast Asian countries.

In general, the two partnering organizations, being one of the biggest media groups in both Guangdong and Singapore, will make use of their resources on the platform to bring insights into China’s highly-anticipated economic plan, the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao GBA, and provide information on the Area’s advantageous policies, industrial and economic development, culture and people’s livelihood.

‘Explore GBA’ is a step forward for the partnership between Nanfang Media Group and CMG. Since 2018, the two media groups have been working to facilitate communication and information exchanges between Singapore and Guangdong, one of the most rapidly-developing provinces in China.

In line with the new platform, an online seminar on the topic of digital economy is scheduled for early 2021, where more details are to be shared on ‘Explore GBA’ according to a press release.