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Hong Kong online shoppers moving to phones, tablets

While Hong Kong’s e-commerce market accounts for less than 5 per cent of total retail sales, the behaviour of those shopping online is changing.

According to data presented by Nielsen at yesterday’s 2018 Hong Kong Retail Summit, organised by the HKRMA, home computers are now used by fewer than half of Hong Kong online shoppers – 48 per cent last year, down 8 per cent from 2016. They are shifting to mobile phones, where 25 per cent shop (up 8 per cent in a year) and tablets, used by 11 per cent, (up 2 per cent). And 13 per cent of Hong Kong online shoppers say they used work computers.

Michael Lee, MD at Nielsen Hong Kong and Macau, who moderated a panel discussion at the event, said expanding availability of eWallets was making online shopping easy and secure in the territory.

“The beauty of e-commerce is convenience, so easy checkout method via eWallet and flexible pick up and return policies are a key to winning.”

Almost half of Hong Kong consumers (46 per cent) now use an eWallet, with the number of active accounts rising 15.4 per cent in the last quarter of 2017 compared with a year earlier. The value of eWallet transactions in the last quarter of 2017 rose 27.7 per cent, “a significant indication of the growth of the ecommerce market,” said Lee.

Buying on impulse

Unlike offline shopping, consumers usually spend impulsively online.

“They are usually triggered to buy online for conditional free shipping/return policy, promotions and discounts as well as easy checkout methods. Among all impulsive purchase categories, the top products are all food-related, the frequently purchased categories being snacks, breakfast cereals, bottled water, instant noodles/pasta/udon as well as ready-to-drink beverages.”

But, he said, despite the advance in online shopping, consumers are still hesitant about shopping online, nursing concerns about delivery logistics for perishable items, their desire to inspect goods before they buy and their need for convenience and the wish to follow habits.

“It is important for online retailers to remove the barriers to make online shopping more welcoming and promising for shoppers by providing click and collect, return policies, showroom and cash on delivery as well as unique product range, and purchase incentives,” he said.

“Because no physical product is in hand in the virtual world, there is nothing more important than creating a better customer experience to win over potential customers. It is therefore crucial for marketers to offer an unmatched online shopping experience by creating a sense of value for money, providing a flexible shopping platform and delivery options, informing customers fully about return policies and making information freely available to customers and giving them the chance to talk about their personal experience.  

Experience is essential

“Consumer experience is essential,” Lee said. “With online shopping become more popular, it is important for industry players to identify the key ways to win in the ecommerce market in Hong Kong. To stand out in this highly competitive market it is important to provide unique cross-screen experience as well as unique product range for consumers.”

Meanwhile, Hong Kong online shoppers are getting older. In contrast with just a few years ago, e-commerce is no longer the preserve of the young.

The Nielsen survey revealed that e-commerce is now relevant to people of all demographics. About 80 per cent of males and females have tried online shopping last year.

While consumers aged 22-29 and 30-39 represent the most frequent shoppers, 67 per cent of older consumers (aged 50-64) said they had bought online last year.

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