A growing number of people are starting their own business online. Hong Kong-based mobile commerce enabling app Boutir aims provides tools for these people to set up online stores and manage inventory easily and efficiently.
Boutir’s co-founder and chief executive Eric Ng recently sat down with the Hong Kong Economic Journal to tell us of his entrepreneurial journey and explain his firm’s business model.
HKEJ: How did you come up with the idea of creating this platform?
Ng: In 2013, we saw Hong Kong people starting to run online stores via social platforms like Instagram, but with this business model, it was difficult for merchants to manage a large number of orders and inquiries via the online platform, and customers could not pay directly and immediately online.
At that time, our team created a one-stop online platform to direct the shoppers from the merchants’ social media accounts to the latter’s web pages, which process customer orders and payments.
With this idea, we won in an entrepreneurial competition AngelHack Hong Kong Fall 2013, and we officially brought the platform to the market around 2015.
Q: Can you briefly explain the business model of Boutir?
A: Using Boutir to build your own online store is extremely convenient and does not require any design or technological knowledge. Through our app, users can set up their own online stores easily and quickly. We will solve various technical problems for them, while they can focus their efforts on important areas like the brand concept and product.
On customer payments, our app accepts different payment methods in the market, such as credit card, Apple Pay, AlipayHK and Google Pay. In addition, we will collect and aggregate the data of consumers’ shopping preferences, browsing rate, and other relevant sales information to provide insightful charts and business advice to our clients, who may not be good at digital marketing and technology.
Q: What is the difference between Boutir and other e-commerce platforms?
A: For people setting up their online stores on other e-commerce platforms, they need to have relevant technical knowledge, or they may have to seek assistance from outside service suppliers. However, seeking services from suppliers to set up an online store may cost tens of thousands of Hong Kong dollars. Instead, we charge our clients a monthly fee, so that they can concentrate on expanding their business without a huge overhead.
Q: The current share of online shopping is still far lower than that of traditional brick-and-mortar stores in the retail sector. What do you think of this?
A: There are a few shortcomings for traditional physical stores. Those merchants have to face high rental costs. It is difficult for the store owner to accurately predict the sales. In contrast, the operating cost for online stores is relatively lower, and the online network helps merchants grasp the market response to the products more quickly.
We have seen consumers nowadays search for product information online frequently before they make the purchase. And their decision is highly likely to be influenced by the information they get from social media platforms. There is also an emerging trend in the city that shoppers go to the physical stores to try on the product after they place the purchase order online. We believe this online-to-offline retail model has already become an important medium to boost shopping.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Dec 14
Translation by Ben Ng
[Chinese version 中文版]
– Contact us at [email protected]