27 October 2016
Yahoo Hong Kong online shopping platform will begin trial run in June, says company executive Jacky Wang. Photo: HKEJ
Yahoo Hong Kong online shopping platform will begin trial run in June, says company executive Jacky Wang. Photo: HKEJ

How Yahoo plans to vie for HK e-shoppers

Online platforms that target Hong Kong consumers are evidently seen as a good proposition, judging by the spate of new e-business ventures announced in recent months.

Hong Kong Television Network (01137.HK) launched its HKTV Mall this February, aiming to tap into the local internet broadcaster’s huge registered subscriber base.

In other initiatives, e-commerce players such as Tmall Global and FingerShopping are testing the waters in the city.

And now, Yahoo says it will roll out next month a new Business-to-Consumer (B2C) online shopping platform – Yahoo Flagship – that will focus on selling Taiwan products.

Jacky Wang, vice president of the e-commerce group at Yahoo Taiwan and Hong Kong, told Hong Kong media that the shopping site will start a trial run in June.

The tech behemoth owns a large slice of Taiwan’s e-commerce market, operating three different online shopping platforms in the island at the moment– the Yahoo Super Mall (B2B2C), the Yahoo Shopping Center (B2C) and the Yahoo Auction (C2C).

Transactions on each of the three platforms have surpassed the NT$10 billion (US$326 million) mark, according to Wang. Sixty percent of the business is said to come from Taipei city.

The group thinks that Hong Kong also offers a lot of room for e-commerce growth, given the increased use of smartphones and changing consumption patterns.

With longer hours at work, a growing number of people in big cities are opting to spend more time to improve their physical well-being through exercise, rather than waste time shopping.

According to a research done in Taiwan, people now spend 12 percent to 13 percent less time on shopping compared to five years ago.

Yahoo is aware of the challenges and opportunities, and realizes that it needs to map out its strategy carefully. 

For e-shopping to become as popular in HK as in Taiwan, it is important to get the products and pricing absolutely right.

Let us take a look at the experience of HKTV Mall.

After the mall was launched, the group distributed HK$100 in mall dollars to all its registered members. That boosted sales for a while. However, transactions plummeted when the promotion ended.

Some buyers have complained that certain items were costlier in the HKTV Mall compared to the offerings in supermarkets.

So what strategy will Yahoo pursue when it makes its foray into Hong Kong B2C retail business?

Wang said Yahoo Flagship will implement the “marketplace” model and introduce as many merchants as possible to its platform.

The company has already joined hands with the Chamber of Hong Kong Computer Industry. About 100 merchants will together provide 3,000 kinds of products in the beginning.

HKTV Mall now has 333 online stores and provides more than 25,000 merchandises in comparison.

Wang said the Yahoo site will also dig into its Auction platform, introducing popular online merchants into Flagship.

If one has stand to out from the crowd, a B2C e-commerce player needs to have a niche. Otherwise, it will become just another online supermarket.

HKTV Mall focuses on selling clothes and accessories from Japan and Korea. In Flagship’s case, it will be Taiwan goods.

Wang said he expects to consolidate the e-commerce platforms in Hong Kong and Taiwan by the end of this year. It means that it will be much easier for local consumers to buy products made in Taiwan.

“There are many similarities between the trend and culture of the two places, and both use traditional Chinese characters,” Wang said. “Hong Kong is the ideal location for Taiwan merchants to go overseas.”

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EJ Insight writer

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