28 October 2016
In a “high knit tea” event organized for yarn maker KPC, Hkranking invited a group of bloggers and designers to knit and eat in a relaxed ambience. Photo: Hkranking
In a “high knit tea” event organized for yarn maker KPC, Hkranking invited a group of bloggers and designers to knit and eat in a relaxed ambience. Photo: Hkranking

How an online shopping fan created an O2O event business

Kenneth Kwok is a big fan of online shopping.

He loves to scout for small Instagram shops offering unique fashions and designs.

Like many internet shoppers, he frequently faces the problem of finding out whether a certain online vendor is genuine and good.

But there is no manual for that.

So Kwok devised a plan himself.

That was the start point of Hkranking, a site that contains a selection of attractive Instagram shops and helps consumers find interesting and quality local products.

Kwok usually bases his choice of online vendors to include in his site on their photo quality and customer comments.

He will also follow the shops over an extended period, say six months, to make sure those he picks are serious operators and likely to survive over the long run.

By grouping shops under different categories through Hkranking’s Instagram accounts, the process of searching for a suitable one is simplified for the potential customer.

But there are two problems.

One is that Hkranking is not getting paid for its services.

The other is that the online channel cannot enable customers to try and feel the product.

To bridge the gap and monetize the company’s rich network of small local brands, artists and designers, Kwok started organizing events.

He groups his contacts into different themes and holds pop-up markets that usually last for just one or two days.

The most recent event took place this summer at a 30,000 square foot barbecue site in Whitehead, Ma On Shan.

Kwok brought in 150 stores for the event, which was branded an “instafestival”.

It featured a wide range of artwork and design products rarely seen in big shopping malls and chain stores, such as hand-woven ear bugs and fashion accessories made of cement.

Band performances and various workshops were held.

Kwok has also organized events on themes like Valentine’s Day, fashion in Hong Kong and DIY fashion.

Based on its solid track record, Hkranking was able to persuade major skateboarding fashion brand Vans to add a street market as a core element of the firm’s House of Vans promotion activities, which cover art, music and skateboarding culture.

Vans is introducing the street market concept to the House of Vans events in Seoul and Shanghai as well.

Though Hkranking won’t be involved, Kwok is still very excited about the firm’s acknowledgement of his idea’s effectiveness.

Some local clients are also tapping Hkranking’s online-to-offline (O2O) experience to create higher brand awareness.

KPC, the business of which stretches from sheep farming to yarn making, recently commissioned Hkranking to arrange a “high knit tea” activity.

To raise the profile of knitwear, which is sometimes viewed as old-school, Kwok brought in a French chef with a Cordon Bleu qualification and invited a group of bloggers and designers to knit, eat, chat and chill out in a cozy setting.

To create an additional income stream and help promote the local art and design culture, Hkranking is also managing Instagram shops for clients who are too busy creating their products and have no time to take care of the marketing side.

Kwok said he always has a lot of strange ideas.

He worked briefly for a logistics firm after graduating from college, but that was hardly the right place to nurture his unconventional thinking and apply his design touch.

Kwok is now doing what he loves.

In addition to expanding his event business, Kwok hopes Hkranking will also grow into a major platform for design and art events.

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Hkranking tries to bring some sort of design, art or cultural element, such as tie dying, to its street market events. Photo: Hkranking.

EJ Insight writer

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