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Digital-savvy consumers are transforming consumer shopping behaviour, says report

Fast-emerging digital technologies are transforming consumer shopping behaviour, according to a new report by KPMG China and GS1 Hong Kong.

The report, “Digital Retail on the Rise” shows more consumers are identifying themselves as “tech-savvy”. It provides an overview of digitalisation and technology trends in retail sectors in the Greater Bay Area (GBA).

YouGov was commissioned by KPMG and GS1 to conduct two surveys, polling more than 1500 consumers in Hong Kong and across nine GBA cities as well as more than 300 largely Hong Kong-based C-level executives.

Of the respondents in the nine GBA cities, 77 per cent identified themselves as “tech-savvy”, with fast-emerging digital technologies appearing to be responsible for the transformation in the ways consumers behave.

“Digital technology is transforming the retail industry,” said KPMG China partner and head of consumer & industrial markets (Hong Kong) Alice Yip. “As data analytics drives growth for companies and consumers become more tech-savvy, expectations for faster and better ways of doing business are rising.”

The findings reveal that Hong Kong consumers are far more likely than their mainland counterparts to manage their finances online (77 per cent versus 56 per cent) or make payments by mobile (73 per cent versus 59 per cent). This indicates a more conventional mode of digital engagement in Hong Kong. A majority of the consumers across all areas reported having consumed online media, free and paid channels, within the past year, with the rate among Hong Kong consumers standing at 74 per cent – slightly higher than the 69 per cent of mainland respondents who answered this question in the affirmative.

The most significant year-on-year change in executives’ responses about the challenges their organisations face was a drop from 42 per cent to just 23 per cent in developing a multichannel strategy. It appears companies have overcome the perceived barriers and implemented at least some form of working solution to omni-channel retailing.

In terms of growth strategies in the coming two years, 37 per cent of surveyed C-level executives said they want to become more data-driven to generate more real-time insights, and 34 per cent seek to develop and apply innovative technologies to increase their competitive edge.

Analysing data is the most important business priority for the coming two years when it comes to digital technology. However, while 77 per cent of polled executives said they are collecting data, only one-third are currently analysing the information. 

“Data is the foundation for business success today,” said GS1 Hong Kong CEO Anna Lin. “Accurate, shareable, searchable and linkable information is critical to redefine the customer experience, while data analysis and intelligence that generate insights can help retailers and brands stand apart.”

A lack of expertise in how to process consumer data efficiently was cited by 45 per cent of the surveyed C-level executives as the top challenge companies face in this digital age.

“As consumers across the Greater Bay Area adopt technology at an exponential pace, businesses must respond by creating new digital roles,” said KPMG China partner and head of consumer & retail (ASPAC) Anson Bailey, “embracing the rise of digital ecosystems with smarter predictive analytics and developing the workforce of the future.”

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