Hong Kong app bridges online, offline gap

Hong Kong based start up Popmap has launched an app allowing small retailers to bridge the gap between offline and online selling.

For all the hype around ecommerce, most sales still happen at brick-and-mortar stores, reports technology news site TechinAsia.com.

“Lots of startups are trying to bridge the gap between offline and online selling – and there are hundreds of different approaches to this challenge.

“Hong Kong-based Popmap is tackling this by persuading small stores to list their products in the app, allowing shoppers to browse the items online – and even buy them online direct from the store,” reports TechinAsia.

“We do the window shopping for you,” says Idris Sersoub, the co-founder and CEO of Popmap.

The company is targeting stores which have no website, as well as merchants who don’t even have a physical store. Sersoub says it’s a way for people to do “last-minute shopping” online while actually sourcing them from nearby shops. The compact nature of Hong Kong means that Popmap’s third-party couriers could deliver within an hour to some locations.

Shoppers can instead opt to pop round to pick up an item. Sersoub says that online discounts persuade consumers to go through with the purchase within Popmap, rather than offline.

The concept for this approach to ecommerce started back in London when Sersoub wanted to buy some earrings for his girlfriend but couldn’t find a store nearby that had any. Sersoub, who comes from Lyon in France, says he “decided to go into local commerce” after that experience, seeing an opportunity for this in many large cities that are packed with interesting indie shops.

The Popmap app debuted on iOS a few weeks ago, with an Android version and a website in the works. They’ll launch at the end of the month.

After that, the startup will take the concept to other cities. In Asia they’re looking into Shanghai and Singapore, and in Europe they’re eying London and Berlin. Sersoub says they set up shop in Hong Kong because “Asia is booming way more than Europe or the US” right now.

While Popmap is free for stores and merchants to use, there’s a transaction fee levied on every purchase which ranges from eight to 15 per cent. Some of that fee is given back to shoppers in the form of a discount to encourage them to buy online. The fee varies between stores, but Sersoub insists it’s usually about eight percent for price purchases.

While fashion items and jewelry are the most popular items on Popmap, it also includes food.

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