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You need a solid strategy for the Hong Kong market

Ecommerce Basics For Entering Hong Kong

It takes a lot of research and planning to succeed in entering a new market but with these basics and close collaboration with your IRP Account Manager, you should be able to get off to the right start.

Hong Kong is a wonderful city, full of young and vibrant 'netizens' (a word I learned when in China – it's an amalgamation of 'net' and 'citizens'). They are extremely tech-savvy people, love to shop online, know where to get the best bargains and are constantly glued to their mobiles, even in business meetings.

After our recent trade mission to Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong with Invest NI, we have concluded that the first step for entering 'Asia' is to have a solid strategy in place for the Hong Kong market.

Hong Kong is the stepping stone into the Chinese market, which is much harder to crack. The reason for this is the existence of the 'Great Firewall of China' which virtually blocks all western websites including Google, Facebook and even WhatsApp. This made it difficult to communicate with colleagues and family back home when we were in Beijing and Shanghai.

We use Google PPC, Bing Ads, Facebook Advertising and many other marketing channels to drive traffic to our ecommerce websites, so tapping into the Chinese markets is going to be a long-term strategy as we investigate all of the most cost-effective ways to get in front of the Chinese consumer.

Baidu and Qihoo are the Google and Bing equivalent, WeChat is the most popular social media network and is a much more sophisticated platform than Facebook, having a multitude of features including the WeChat Wallet, which is how most people transact on mobile.

Chinese ecommerce retailers operate in a completely different way to us. In China, Taobao, Tmall and WeChat Stores are marketplaces like eBay and Amazon and this is how the majority of shoppers purchase online. These transactions are all processed using a variety of different payment methods, including Alipay, WeChat Pay and UnionPay.

Hong Kong is much more relaxed than China. The 'Great Firewall of China' virtually disappeared when we landed and our phones pinged with all the missed WhatsApp messages and emails as soon as we touched down on the runway.

Hong Kong is a former British colony and as such has a large influence from the west and one of the official languages is English. This makes it easier to communicate with the audience in Hong Kong. One of the first roadblocks when entering a new market is language so this is reduced somewhat when pushing your products into the Hong Kong market.

Google, Bing, Facebook and other western websites are not blocked either, which means we can also use the same advertising channels we use in the West to target the Hong Kong audience.


Steps to entering the Hong Kong market using the IRP

First of all, research – are you getting traffic? If not, why not? Are you getting traffic and no sales? If not, why no conversions? Is this going to be a profitable market for you? How are customers transacting? What are they buying? How will you ship your products?

Ready to take the plunge? Excellent! Speak to your Account Manager before embarking on your journey to the East to get assistance with all of the following:

1. Payment Processing – Ensure that you have Alipay and other Local Payment Mechanisms (LPMs) set up – and test! There's no point in driving and welcoming traffic from Hong Kong if they get to the final stage in their buying journey and can't checkout.

2. International Messaging – Top banners, heading banners, add-to-basket messaging, shipping information, delivery page, about us page, and so forth. You need to always be selling on every page of your website. This builds trust in seconds and will encourage your traffic to stay on your website for longer, increasing the likelihood of conversion with every second visitors are on your site.

3. Home Pages – Once your international messaging is nailed down you can alter your home page to appeal more to the Hong Kong market. You will hopefully have had some previous purchases and know what these buyers are looking for – so make it easy for them if they return! Most people don't land on your website via the home page, so the previous step is the most important – international messaging.

4. Google Shopping Feeds – Set these up and test so that if the Hong Kong market is searching for your products on Google you'll appear in the Shopping Tab. Review this and make sure your shipping and prices are competitive.

5. Facebook Dynamic Product Adverts – Facebook is widely used in Hong Kong and is popular among expatriates, so set this up as well. This will help you remain relevant if the shopper has been on your website, as your products will follow them.

6. Translations – Consider translating your website into Chinese. The majority of people in Hong Kong do speak English but you'll gain added trust if you translate your website. It will also appeal to the wider non-English-speaking market, so if you're generating lots of sales here it would be worth the cost of translations.

Get off to the right start

To conclude, it takes a lot of research and planning to succeed in entering a new market but with these basics and close collaboration with your IRP Account Manager, you should be able to get off to the right start.

This is an opportunity that you cannot miss

Contact your Account Manager to discuss this in further detail or to find out more about IRP Local Payment Methods. You can also email Jo Morgan:

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