How to enter the Hong Kong e-commerce market?

Year on year, more and more people are gaining access to the internet, thanks to the massive use of smartphones and the ease of access to the web. Not only are more people coming online, but people are also shopping more often than before since there are more e-shops and that shipping and payments are making the whole purchase experience easier.

Hong Kong is no exception and it creates plenty of opportunities for entrepreneurs who would like to benefit from a trending industry.

A growing market

E-commerce in Honk Kong is currently growing at a rate of approximately 8.1% a year, reports Statista – the global business data platform. This growth is going to be very appealing to anybody interested in making an online business, but there are other reasons to get involved in the e-commerce industry in Hong Kong specifically. For example, the corporate tax rate is only 8.25% for the first HK$2 million, helping fledgling businesses to get a foothold. This figure will rise to a very reasonable 16.52% for profits over HK$2 million but still, Hong Kong has one of the most tax-friendly system in the region which attracts thousands of entrepreneurs every years, thanks to a government which launch various initiatives to become a Smart City, such as Singapore.

For e-commerce store owners in particular, doing business in Hong Kong is beneficial because it gives access to one of the planet’s leading manufacturing centers: Mainland China. Indeed, it has been estimated that approximately 40% of China’s foreign trade goes through Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office reports.

Yet another reason to start an e-commerce store in Hong Kong is the potential local market to tap into. The territory has some of the highest connectivity levels in the world. In 2018, almost 5.5 million people in Hong Kong shopped online, a number that is expected to rise to 5.8 million by 2023, according to the latest data from Statista.

There are numerous reasons why people in Hong Kong, and further afield, prefer online shopping over traditional shopping.

  • Wide Selections: When you shop online, you will find a huge selection to choose from. Whether you need clothes or furniture, you will also be able to find just what you need. In brick and mortar stores you will need to go from shop to shop to look for what you want, but e-commerce shows a wide selection of all you could need on your device.
  • Comparison: When shopping, we will usually be looking for the best possible product according to our budget. This might mean a lot of leg work going from store to store to compare different products. When shopping on e-commerce, making comparisons between products at different stores is so much easier and quicker.
  • Price: e-commerce stores will generally have fewer overheads than brick and mortar stores. This improves their margins and this, in turn, allows them to pass on their savings to their customers. As a result, shopping online will often mean that you can find the same products for less than you might otherwise pay.
  • Reviews: There is often some apprehension when making purchases. Reviews help to remove a lot of this apprehension, making it a lot easier for people to make the decision to buy. Indeed, around 97% of shoppers in 2016 said that reviews influence their buying decisions.

Tap into the growth

Any sector that shows impressive growth is going to represent a good opportunity for businesses. Here we provide a few tips on how to to make the most of the potential in the e-commerce sector in Hong Kong and further afield.

Sourcing Products

When you have a store – you will need something to sell. When sourcing products you will have the choice between buying directly and going for dropshipping businesses, each of which has its own pros and cons.

Dropshipping

Pros:

  • No need to buy upfront – requires less capital.
  • Fewer overheads for storage and insurance etc.
  • Less risk.
  • A 3rd party handles shipping for you.

Cons:

  • Potential for 3rd party errors.
  • No bulk pricing.
  • Reliance on 3rd party stock levels.

Direct Purchasing

Pros:

  • Bulk discounts likely available.
  • More control over processing and stock levels.

Cons:

  • More risk – no guarantees of selling stock
  • Storage space required
  • More work processing orders

Other factors to take into consideration include doing your own research on products, demand, and the supplier. Is the supplier able to handle large volumes if sales go well? How effective are they at providing you with important data such as stock levels?

Building A Store

Your store is obviously one of the key components so it is important to get it right. There can be a lot to take into consideration, including whether you should opt for hosted or self-hosted solutions. Here’s some of the pros and cons of each.

Hosted (Shopify, BigCommerce, Volusion)

Pros:

  • Easy to use templates
  • Ready to use functions
  • Easy to adjust to market fluctuations
  • Different packages available

Cons:

  • Some platforms are English only
  • Limited customization
  • Migration might be needed at a later date

Self-hosted platforms (Craft Commerce, Magento)

Pros:

  • Greater customization possible.
  • Code follow-up.

Cons:

  • Technical knowledge required.
  • Higher cost.

Getting Sales

Every e-commerce store needs sales. Get it right and you could be on your way to success, and here’s a brief look at how to achieve that.

  • SEO Optimization: Millions of people in Hong Kong use Google every day for searches. SEO optimization will help ensure that your products show in potential customers’ searches.
  • Paid ads: SEO can be very effective, but there is a lot of competition and it can take time to get results. Paid ads such as AdWords and Facebook ads are very affordable, help you overcome high competition, and get results quickly.
  • Quality Content: The right content will show that you have something visitors want and will help to push all the right buttons and encourage a sale.
  • Easy To Use: Internet users are impatient. Make sure that your store is easy to use and visitors know how to find everything with ease.
  • Offer Great Deals: People just love bargains. Promotions will not only help encourage initial sales but can also help you gain long-term loyal customers.

The potential in the e-commerce sector in Hong Kong is clear to see. The good news is that you don’t have to be a large, established business to take advantage of this potential. The brief guide above will give you the basics that will help you to get your own e-commerce store established.

 

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