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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 East Asia

HSBC’s PayMe to drive digital payment adoption in HK via partnership with Global Payments

Hong Kong – HSBC’s mobile payment platform PayMe has announced today a strategic partnership with payment technology and software services provider Global Payments Inc., in an aim to expand the merchant coverage of PayMe, making payments simpler for both businesses and consumers in Hong Kong. 

The partnership will allow merchants to connect with PayMe users by simply adding PayMe for Business in their Electronic Cash Registers (ECR) system. A QR code will then be generated automatically at checkout. 

For consumers, they will only have to scan the QR code with their PayMe app and authenticate the payment. 

The PayMe app will be supported by Global Payments’ leading data analytics platform. Through this, merchants can now access real-time PayMe transaction reports digitally via the Global Payments Merchant Portal and process instant refunds with a few clicks, which will enable merchants to enhance operational efficiency in cash management and reconciliation, as well as further simplify customer experiences. 

Kerry Wong, head of HSBC’s PayMe, commented that they are thrilled to forge a new strategic partnership with Global Payments, which plays an important part in the merchant expansion plan of PayMe for Business. 

“This also provides a convenient payment collection solution to Hong Kong businesses as they adapt to the accelerating trend of digital transformation. We will continue our commitment to make payments simpler for merchants and consumers in both online and offline scenarios,” said Wong. 

Meanwhile, the President of Asia Pacific’s Global Payments, Konrad Chan, said, “We have always been at the forefront of payment technology innovation and are committed to providing our merchants with distinctive payment solutions to satisfy the evolving needs of consumers in Hong Kong.”

Starting today, PayMe is an available payment option at sandwich chain store Pret A Manger, Japanese café Panash Bakery & Café (applicable for dine-in at Café locations only), coffee shop Pause It, and pizza specialist Dough Bros. Pizza & Doughnuts branches across the city. More businesses using Global Payments’ payment services will be able to deploy PayMe for Business in the near future.

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SME Featured East Asia

HSBC Hong Kong launches B2B digital community platform

Hong Kong – HSBC Hong Kong has rolled out a new business-to-business (B2B) digital community platform HSBC VisionGo. The platform will serve as an ecosystem for SMEs, startups, and prospective entrepreneurs where they can exchange dialogue for business insights as well as a place for networking. 

The platform is built on the company’s cloud computing platform Microsoft Azure. It employs machine learning technologies to offer personalized professional insights and networking opportunities through an AI-enhanced interface, along with new interactive features designed to further foster conversations and collaboration. 

The platform also enables SME operators to follow each other. Business topics can also be discussed among the community through interactive polling. In addition, SMEs can promote their own offers to create new business leads, or redeem available offers as added benefits. 

According to a recent HSBC report, 95% of Hong Kong businesses have extended support to, or have received support from other businesses they work with by exchanging expertise and sharing premises (50%), enabling others to get their products to customers (46%), or relaxing payment terms for their smaller partners (35%).

Terence Chiu, head of commercial banking at HSBC Hong Kong said, “HSBC is committed to investing in digital innovation to help Hong Kong’s SME sector. We are a connector in the business community, and we aim to use our strength to build a collaborative business ecosystem that will help businesses get through these challenging times and position themselves to make the most of the opportunities when they come.” 

A beta version of the platform was unveiled in March 2020. As the platform continues to develop, HSBC will be introducing features such as integration with its mobile payment service PayMe.